Mall filtered water poorly

2017-05-17 13:30
One of the many JoJo tanks that have been installed at the Liberty Midlands Mall.

One of the many JoJo tanks that have been installed at the Liberty Midlands Mall. (Ian Carbutt)

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Water authorities have launched a probe into the water quality at the Liberty Midlands Mall following reports that proper purification processes may not have been applied to water made available to tenants and shoppers.

The Witness understands that the Midlands Mall began purifying catchment water for consumption from their JoJo tanks without proper authorisation from the municipality, Umgeni Water or the Department of Water and Sanitation.

According to a source, Midlands Mall collected water in their storage units, used unapproved methods to filter the water and then allowed the water to run through their taps.

The operation was part of a water saving initiative by the mall but it was not sanctioned by authorities to distribute the water for human consumption.

The source revealed that the authorities were not notified that Midlands Mall was distributing the water for consumption “but we had always been under the impression that the catchment water was used for flushing of toilets and other such uses”.

A manager at a restaurant said they stopped serving tap water to their customers “because it looked dirty”.

He said although there were no complaints from the customers, the restaurant took the decision a few weeks ago to stop serving tap water.

Another restaurant manager said the water tasted “awful”.

The source said the municipality continued to supply water to the mall until the discovery last week.

The water supply was then cut off for three days last week, leaving tenants and customers frustrated and without ablution facilities.

The Witness published an article yesterday highlighting the frustrations tenants and customers experienced over the Mother’s Day weekend.

A restaurant manager said they could not serve coffee or other hot drinks and lost customers because of that.

A customer who visited the mall said the toilets were left in an “absolutely disgusting” condition as there were no signs telling customers there was no water.

The Witness has established that water samples have been sent for chemical tests and comparisons to determine the source of contamination.

Speaking on behalf of the Liberty Midlands Mall, CEO of JHI Retail Nomzamo Radebe said they were in the process of investigating “environmentally-friendly projects including the responsible and sustainable use of water”.

Radebe did not answer questions about the contamination of water, the mall’s purification methods or the reasons behind the mall operating without water for three days.

“The water at Liberty Midlands Mall is supplied by Msunduzi Municipality,” said Radebe, adding that they are co-operating with the municipality.

Msunduzi Municipality confirmed that they have since instructed the Midlands Mall to cease all water saving initiatives until the investigation has been finalised. Spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha confirmed the investigation was under way and said the issues were specifically related to the Midlands Mall and not the residential area around it.

She said the mall was co-operating with the municipality and the other water authorities.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said they were approached by the municipality to assist with the investigation by providing information on the legislation pertinent to water treatment and water quality “as it has expertise in water treatment and potable water quality”.

“Umgeni Water is assisting its customer [Msunduzi Municipality] with information it has requested. It is important to note that water conservation remains an imperative need in these difficult times of water shortages,” Harichunder said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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