The best and worst of our water: Ikwezi and Kou-Kamma

2012-05-12 15:18

The country’s worst water is to be found in two Eastern Cape municipalities – and residents are furious.

Ikwezi and Kou-Kamma local municipalities featured at the bottom of the 2012 National Blue Drop Water Quality Assessment Report released this week by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa. Local councillors in Ikwezi and Kou-Kamma are furious, and residents have accused the state of abandoning them.

Molewa said the two municipalities’ water “is not safe at all” and accused the municipalities of not being committed to dealing with the problem. Ikwezi Local Municipality, which includes Jansenville, Klipplaat and Wolwefontein, will now compile a “comprehensive” response to Molewa, Municipal Manager Thembani Gutas said.

“Council sat in a special meeting and they are very upset because it is not new to national government. Previous ministers have promised over and over, but nothing has happened yet,” Gutas said.

Countless proposals, the most recent being that water be sourced from nearby Darlington Dam, have been written to various spheres of government, he said.

“With an allocation of only R2?million for water infrastructure from the (Cacadu) district municipality for this financial year, not much can be done.

“Our plight is known because we made representations to district and national governments?.?.?.?It’s not moving at the required pace,” he added, saying the water supply and the ageing infrastructure were the town’s biggest problems.

Officials at Cacadu District Municipality, the district’s water services authority, could not be reached for comment. While the average Blue Drop score for municipalities in the Eastern Cape is 82%, Kou-Kamma and Ikwezi came in with paltry scores of 7.91 and 5.60%, respectively. Molewa’s report also revealed that a whopping 33% of the province’s municipalities had no water safety plans to ensure the water is of good quality.

In Jansenville, the municipality in 2010 supplied residents with green water tanks to harvest rain water to drink, as the brackish borehole water was undrinkable. The town does not have a water treatment facility, and chlorinates its water by dosing its reservoirs with HTH chlorine pills.

Water Affairs’ Rapid Response Unit has allocated R1? million to ­refurbish equipment, while the ­Development Bank of South Africa has approved funding to build a water treatment works in Jansenville, said Gutas.

A resident said: “The water here has always been like this, so I don’t really understand where this water minister has been.”

Despite the alarming findings, residents are adamant the water doesn’t make them sick.

Nkosazana Jeyi, a teacher at Draai location’s Gcinubuzwe Combined School, said most of the school’s 296 learners drank from the taps when water from the school’s single tank run out.

Jeyi said: “I’ve got 34 years teaching here, and my husband and I have raised five children drinking this water. It could be that people have been getting sick and dying, but we just didn’t know it was caused by this water.”

GRAPHIC: The best and worst of our water countrywide

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