Cape Town steps up water testing in response to residents’ concerns

Scientific Services Branch in Athlone

City’s Water and Sanitation Department’s Scientific Services has increased the frequency of monitoring and analysis of water supplied at the City’s various water treatment works.

"The City of Cape Town is experiencing a persistent drought that has seen our dam storage levels drop to an unprecedented low. 
 
This week dam storage levels further declined to 36,2%. Only 26,2% of that water is useable. 
 
Collective water usage by the residents of Cape Town currently stands at 602 million litres per day. This is 102 million litres above the target usage of 500 million litres per day that we require to see the city through the drought.
 
In order to manage our precious water resources, the City has introduced advanced water pressure management throughout the metro. As a result of this process, residents might notice changes in the taste and colour of their tap water, but the water remains safe to drink.
 
To reassure residents of the quality of their water, the City’s Water and Sanitation Department’s Scientific Services has increased the frequency of monitoring and analysis of water supplied at the City’s various water treatment works.
 
The Scientific Services Branch in Athlone, which I visited today, monitors the city’s water quality all-year round. 
 
Some water users might have noticed an earthy taste and odour to their municipally-supplied drinking water and I want to assure Capetonians that this does not pose any health risk.
 
Staff at the facility follow a rigorous water quality testing programme to analyse drinking water from our drinking water treatment works, the treated wastewater from wastewater treatment works and water from rivers and vleis. Air pollution testing is also performed. 
 
This branch is one of several facilities across the city where our staff are working around the clock to ensure that the water supplied by the City is of the best quality.
 
If residents are worried about the water quality, especially after there has been an immediate water supply interruption due to advanced pressure management, they should not waste the water that first flows through the tap when supply is restored. They should store it in a container and use it for flushing.
 
We have nearly 300 monitoring sites all over the city to cover our huge drinking water distribution system. In addition to this, automatic online chlorine monitors assist with around-the-clock chlorine checks to protect water security. 
 
The scientific services laboratory has to date tested more than 55 521 samples of water each year. Samples received by the labs are analysed daily. The National Department of Water and Sanitation also conducts frequent water quality checks.
 
The City published its annual water quality data recently and the figures confirm that the water supplied at the City’s various water treatment works complies with the standard limits published in the South African National Standard for Drinking Water (SANS 241:2015).
 
Residents can assist by logging all water taste and discoloration incidents with the City’s Contact Centre at 0860 103 089 (water option), by sending an email to water@capetown.gov.za or an SMS to 31373."
 
STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S EXECUTIVE MAYOR PATRICIA DE LILLE 
 
For more information on the current severe drought, water restrictions, how to reduce your water usage and all water-related matters, please visit