ACDP: Disease risk to water supply
Cape Town - The breakdown of ageing sewage treatment works and the discharge of bacteria into rivers and streams pose a deadly health risk to water supplies, the African Christian Democratic Party warned on Friday.
"Questions have rightly been asked as to whether municipal water is still acceptable for human consumption, particularly in rural areas," ACDP MP Steve Swart said in a statement.
Outdated infrastructure and problems in retaining skilled staff had contributed to unacceptably high levels of pollution in many rivers and dams around the country.
He noted that a breakdown in the state of water supplies in South Africa's northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, had caused an outbreak of cholera.
"If we do not attend to this creeping water crisis, we will face very serious public health issues arising from water-borne diseases," Swart said.
Water awareness campaigns
With about 100 000 reported cases and more than 4 000 deaths, Zimbabwe's recent cholera epidemic - which started in 2008 - proved one of Africa's most deadly in almost two decades.
Swart called on government to embark on public water awareness campaigns, similar to those addressing power shortages.
"The maintenance and refurbishment of bulk water infrastructure and supplies, as well as the widespread pollution of our rivers and dams, must be attended to urgently," he said.
The department of water affairs was not immediately available for comment.
Earlier this week, it was reported that South Africa's largest water utility, Rand Water, blamed overloaded sewage works, together with acid mine drainage and poor water catchment management, for the rapidly deteriorating quality of the country's raw water supplies.
According to the department of water affairs' so-called Green Drop report, issued earlier this year, only 7% of the country's sewage treatment plants operate at an acceptable standard.