Excess caustic soda leaves water ‘unusable’

2018-04-12 06:00
: Absolutely WaterPHotos: SUPPLIED

: Absolutely WaterPHotos: SUPPLIED

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JEFFREYS Bay resident and owner of Absolutely Water, Jurgen Will, is in uproar over the high level of caustic soda in the municipal borehole water - which poses several possible health hazards.

He now warns Upper Wavecrest residents, who receive water from the borehole, against municipal water supplies, as the water was found to be corrosive and dangerous by two independent and qualified chemical organisations.

“The water can be corrosive to the skin and internal organs over a long period of time, so people should not drink or wash themselves with it,” says Will.

“Nor can the water be used after boiling as the caustic soda is not removed by boiling.”

According to a water company based in St Francis Bay who tested the water, the water has become “upset” and out of balance due to the high amount of caustic soda in the water. Thus, precipitating the calcium carbonate and iron in the water.

Furthermore, the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) increased by 107ppm. It now totals at a TDS of 585ppm in relation to a TDS of 470ppm prior to dosing with caustic soda in November 2017.

This causes lye caustic soda crystal to form inside of water purification membranes and thereby substantially block the water flow rate - as experienced by Absolutely Water since the end of last year.

“Once the membrane is washed with a light solution of citric acid, the neutralised crystals reverts to a white caustic soda powder,” says Will.

According to yet another company specialising in fibre cement and concrete pipes, the depositions of salts and scaling indicates that the pH is increased to a level where the water is not only aggressive to concrete, but it is being over compensated.

“All we want is for the municipality to dose responsibly and consider the health of residents,” says Jurgen.

Will requested these tests after experiencing a sudden drop in water pressure and a host of contaminants clogging the filtration and reverse osmosis sytem at his shop since the end of last year.

According to him, water production and the production of reverse osmosis dropped with a staggering 80% over the last four months, leading to a loss of potential sales of some 60Kl due to wanton supply to their relatively large customer base. They now frequently have to close their doors long before noon, creating embarrassment and customer disappointment. However, the root cause is out of their control.

“The quality of the water is appalling,” says Will.

Infrastructure and Engineering Portfolio Councillor, Freddy Campher, says, “We appreciate Will’s input and regret the impact the purification process has had on his business. The municipality’s first priority, however, needs to be the welfare of all residents.

“The water is tested weekly by an independent laboratory and, as the reports have consistently shown, complies with the stringent requirements set by the SA Bureau of Standards.”

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