City wins Blue Drop status

2011-07-06 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG has turned a corner in the quality of its drinking water — the Msunduzi Municipality was awarded Blue Drop status by the national Department of Water Affairs in Cape Town last month.

Of the 162 municipalities that were independently assessed by the department, only 66 were awarded Blue Drop status.

The award is given to municipalities that excel in providing safe, clean drinking water. Blue Drop status also means that the city concerned has scored 95% or higher for its compliance with various chemical and microbiological standards.

In summary, Blue Drop status is the cum laude of drinking water quality management and recognition for exceptional performance.

Mayor Chris Ndlela announced this milestone for the capital at a press briefing held at the city hall yesterday.

He said Msunduzi Municipality was awarded the status on June 30 at the third Annual Drinking Water Conference held at the Cape Town International Conference Centre.

“The municipality exceeded the 95% Blue Drop status benchmark and attained 95,6%.

“This is a vast improvement from the 73,1% rating the municipality received last year.

“It is important to note that the Blue Drop assessments not only look at the quality of the water but also the entire water provision cycle.

“It … scores the competence and skill level of staff; the procedures that are followed in the event of an incident; the adequacy of the budget for maintenance purposes and proof of adequate maintenance of our water infrastructure, to name a few,” said Ndlela.

The mayor attributed the achievement to the dedication and cohesion of officials in the council’s water and environmental health sections and the municipality’s bulk water suppliers, Umgeni Water.

“It is good to know that in our pursuit in ensuring that all citizens have adequate supply of this scarce, basic service, we are definitely not compromising on the quality of water being delivered. In delivering quantity we are ensuring quality is maintained.

“I would therefore like to reiterate to all residents that they can rest assured that our drinking water and quality and procedures are of the highest standards and we intend maintaining this prestigious status,” said Ndlela.

The executive manager for water distribution management, Brenden Sivparsad, attributed the improvement in part to the employment of an independent consultant to look at the council’s water safety plans.

“It goes to show that having an outsider looking at our system helped,” said Sivparsad. He said the municipality improved the monitoring systems and that when a complaint about smelly or dirty water is lodged it knows how to attend to it speedily.

Engineering and scientific services manager for Umgeni Water Pumezo Jonas said eThekwini Metro has achieved Blue Drop status over several years, and the organisation finds it odd that Msunduzi had not, because Umgeni Water supplies both councils with bulk water.

Water Affairs has also commended the Msunduzi Municipality for the excellent performance in the management and operations of the water supply system.

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