Bay water is fine, says municipality after shock r

February 5, 2008

Bay water is fine, says municipality after shock report

Hendrick Mphande HERALD REPORTER

THE Nelson Mandela Bay municipality has assured its residents that their water supply is safe for human consumption.

We do not have problems and our water supply is safe and it is treated in accordance with the national standard. We have a master plan until 2020, municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said yesterday.

In the past few years, the water from several major dams that supply the Bay was said to be under threat of being infected by livestock droppings and carcasses, which release toxins that can harm and even kill people.

About 200 cattle, sheep and other stock were reportedly grazed by metro staff at the Churchill Dam near Humansdorp. The situation is the same at the Sand and Bulk river dams in the Elands River valley, the Loerie Dam and the Nooitgedacht water treatment works in Sunland.

Baron insisted that the metros water was safe for human consumption and dams providing it with water were 90 per cent full.

His assurance came after the Business Times reported at the weekend that South Africa was on the brink of a water contamination crisis, potentially as bad as the electricity fiasco of the past few weeks.

The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) had confirmed evidence of contaminated crops and water and had acted to protect people and livestock, the newspaper said.

The report is the latest of several recent indicators that the government is no longer able to effectively monitor and manage its vast infrastructure of dams, pipes, pumps and treatment facilities.

Among the alarming findings contained in a series of reports are:

Forty-three per cent of dams managed by the department of water affairs and forestry have safety problems and require urgent repair.

An estimated R180-billion is necessary to replace old water service infrastructure countrywide, including in the major metro areas.

Waste water from mining operations appears to have seeped into the countrys groundwater system a process known as acid mine drainage raising concerns about future water supply.

Vegetables and fish collected in the Wonderfonteinspruit catchment area west of Johannesburg have been contaminated with radioactive uranium and the NNR is testing milk and meat from cows grazing in the area. Water in the Wonderfonteinspruit area has also been contaminated by radioactive material, as well as by heavy metals and salts, the Business Times said.

Despite the NNRs latest report a follow-up to an earlier detailed report of contamination in the area cattle farming continues and environmental activists are concerned that radioactive meat may be entering the food cycle.

According to the NNR report, contaminated sites are now restricted zones.

Additional reporting by Sapa

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