Dirty water? We’ll stick to beer

2013-08-25 10:00

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Mpumalanga residents take to the bottle to avoid drinking dodgy water

Some Mpumalanga residents believe it is safer to drink beer every day than to drink dodgy water – and they may have a point, since the province officially has the worst water quality in South Africa.

Sithuli Sithole (35) of Tekwane North, just outside Nelspruit, is one strictly beer-drinking local who is fed up with reports of diarrhoea outbreaks.

“I don’t have time to drink dirty water. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember drinking water in the last few months.

“What is the point of drinking water if it is going to make you sick anyway?” Sithole asked while enjoying a drink with friends in the Mbombela inner city.

“My friends and I have taken a decision to drink alcohol every day as a replacement for the dirty water. Can you blame us? This is how we quench our thirst every day.”

Just this month, a diarrhoea outbreak landed 32 pupils from Mathews Phosa College in hospital.

The provincial health department has yet to release the results of water tests from the school and has instead warned locals to take precautions.

Sithole says he will stick with beer. “Maybe I will go back to drinking water if the authorities were to assure us that the water is clean and won’t make us sick.”

But an independent water technician, Victor Mashego, said if more people paid their water bills, municipalities would have enough money to ensure a safe supply.

“There are reports that the Barberton community can spend up to R1 million a weekend on alcohol, but they can’t spend R200 to pay a water bill. Where is the municipality going to get money to clean their water? We must not prioritise alcohol instead of water,” said Mashego.

He said it was nearly impossible to have 100% clean water in provinces like Mpumalanga that depend heavily on mining and agricultural activities.

“Our rivers are impacted daily by various human activities, particularly acid mine drainage in the Highveld and industrial and agricultural activities in the upper and lower catchments.

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