‘Water smells foul’

2018-03-06 06:00

Residents of Disa, a temporary area for Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay, are complaining about the foul smell of their water and they suspect this might the cause of their painful stomach issues.

The residents were moved to this temporary site following the fires in Imizamo Yethu in March last year, which left thousands homeless.

Residents say their water has been undrinkable for the past few weeks.

In addition to having to deal with their water being cut off without notice, they also have to stomach the fact that they can’t use the water because it is foamy and smells foul.

A Disa resident, Vuyokazi Melkane, says the past few weeks have been bad.

“Although the water is clear now, it’s still difficult to drink it. It smells so bad, like it has petrol in it, and at times it just smells like sewage. You can’t drink it. I suspect the water is making people sick in this area. A lot of people have been complaining about painful stomachs and we have reported it, but still our water smells bad. The water has been cut without any communication and people spend the whole day without water. When it comes back on at around seven in the evening, we have to deal with the foam. It’s bad – the water looks like someone has been doing their washing, and it comes from the tap,” she says.

Melkane explains that in order to have water to use, they have to boil and freeze it.

“Our houses are small so you can’t boil a lot of water. You can only boil a two-litre bottle and put it in the fridge. We don’t have buckets to keep more boiled water in case it is cut off so we struggle a lot. Most of us have the one 10F bucket which you use to fetch the water. So for us to be able to use the water we have to boil and freeze it, but what can you do with two litres of water?

Another upset resident, Babalwa Mhlane, says it is because they are poor that they have to deal with this situation. “We have been complaining but we are told they will look into it. I doubt if those in power will use water that smells like a toilet. The smell is so bad, we can’t tolerate it. It makes us so upset. Most of us here depend on grants and we can’t afford to buy water, it’s too expensive. It’s not even Day Zero but we have to deal with water cuts or this smelly water. We are dreading Day Zero because we don’t have the money to buy bottled water. We will struggle and our children will get sick.”

Suzette Little, Mayco member (North), says the City of Cape Town’s health department was not aware of any concerns around the drinking water quality. V Continued on page 2.

“The City’s Environmental Health staff conducted an inspection on site on Thursday 1 March. Residents complained about the water tasting and smelling unusual. They also indicated that they had experienced diarrhoea. The nearby clinic has, however, not noticed an unusual increase in the number of diarrhoea cases reported,” she says.

Little says Environmental Health staff did, however, notice that the surface area around the standpipes in the informal settlements is not connected to a greywater system, which results in water runoff and stagnation. “A greywater disposal ‘tank’ where residents dispose of their greywater has recently been installed. It could be that the smells generated by the grey water could lead to the perception that the water is not safe as the overflow from the greywater tank is relatively close to some of the taps. City Health will engage with the relevant department to address the management of greywater in the two temporary areas (Disa and Depot),” says Little.VResidents are encouraged to report any health concerns to the nearest clinic or City of Cape Town Environmental Health office on 021 444 1718. Alternatively log a service request by calling the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089.

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