Red Alert for Water Quality

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial leader

The Democratic Alliance wants to know from the acting premier and all the provincial MEC’s, as to which of them still drinks tap water. This comes after shocking revelations in the Blue Drop Water Quality Assessment Report placed the Northern Cape second last on the scale of quality drinking water in South Africa.

Whilst the results of the report are a disgrace to both our provincial and local government institutions, they do not come as a surprise. Many South Africans can no longer rely on the quality of the water that is delivered to their homes because of comprehensive neglect at several different levels I, myself, have long since been put off drinking our tap water and I am sure that I am not alone. While I am privileged in that I can afford to purchase purified drinking water, I have not, however, lost sight of the fact the majority of the residents of the Northern Cape have no choice but to drink the low quality water that courses through our taps. They are the ones suffering the most.

The greatest threat to water quality in South Africa is the failing waste water infrastructure. Maintaining water infrastructure in municipalities is usually the responsibility of local and district municipalities but weak municipalities often do not fully use available funds. These municipalities need special attention from both the Department of Coghsta and the Department of Water in order to ensure the integrity of water supply. Worryingly, however, they do not seem to understand the urgency of this matter. Instead, Coghsta is proving to be an ineffective tool in protecting the environment against the negative impacts of human activity, and legislation and policies at different levels sometimes contradict each other.

As the quality of the water from our water sources deteriorates, it becomes more complex and more expensive to purify this water to make it safe for drinking. To compound this problem, the water treatment plants and the pipes that deliver clean water are old and dilapidated. But few councils are doing anything more than band-aid maintenance. A further complication is that councils have been under enormous pressure to expand water and sewerage infrastructure to service previously under-serviced areas. This has added to the burden on existing infrastructure.

Water is a matter of life and death and the DA wishes to remind all levels of government that the victims of poor water quality are the ordinary people. The DA urges government to tackle this issue through specific action plans rather than high-level denial, before is culminates in a national crisis.

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