SA spring water 'not good enough'

2013-05-16 14:05
Water supply is a critical issue in SA. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Water supply is a critical issue in SA. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - While natural spring water may provide a source for industrial and commercial uses of water, it may not be suitable for human consumption, a researcher has said.

"Sixteen springs altogether probably produce a nice little of bit of water, compared to what the city uses, but getting all 16 springs together at that one point at a convenient place to join the system... " Dr Jo Barnes, an epidemiologist in the Division of Community Health at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University, told News24.

Barnes said that the springs on Table Mountain in Cape Town may provide water, but the area was environmentally sensitive, and this may not be suitable to capture water.

"It is a very complex matter: If a spring is situated in a conservation area, are you going to throw a huge pipeline trough there?"

According to the City of Cape Town, there are 18 springs in the metro and 98% of current water supply is surface water. The city has proposed a future mix of water supply where surface water made up 70%, ground water 7%, recycling 13%, and desalination 10% of supply.


The demand for potable water is expected to sharply increase over the next decade and this might have serious implications for social cohesion.

"In South Africa, water demand is expected to rise by 52% within the next 30 years while the supply of water is sharply declining. If current trends of leakage from aged and poorly maintained municipal infrastructure and the loss of wetlands persist, this growth in demand will intensify competition for water resources across all sectors of the economy," said Brand South Africa on the SA info website.

Barnes though, said that water networks are in serious of maintenance and upgrading and an urgent priority is the sanitation system.

"Cape Town's network is, in quite a number of places, not in good shape."

The deputy minister of water affairs alluded to the state of the water networks around the country in a recent speech in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape province.

"South Africa is already faced with scarce water resources and is further threatened by high levels of pollution in dams and rivers. We are also faced with water wastage that occurs in our homes, schools, businesses as a result of leaking taps and pipes," said Rejoice Mabudafhasi.

Barnes who has written a chapter in the new book, Sustainable Stellenbosch - Opening Dialogues, called for improved sanitation, and storm water management.

"Here is why I’m calling for better sanitation so we don’t put bad stuff into the environment, obviously. The other one is the massive lack of maintenance you find in all cities," she said of the water management challenges.

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