Cape Town - In the midst of 'Day Zero' concerns, the City of Cape has announced that only 10 out of 80 springs across the city have been tested as safe for drinking.
The announcement comes after the City's environmental health coordinator, Christa Hugo, warned residents that not all of the spring water being collected by residents in Cape Town is safe for drinking.
The City's mayoral member, Alderman JP Smith says only water from 10 sites are sampled once a month - but more sites are being added to the list to reduce potential health risks.
The City says this initiative is but one of several key interventions to safeguard the public in a time of increased reliance on alternative water sources such as springs, boreholes and well points and greywater.
The City warns residents that the only source of safe drinking water remains the municipal water provided through the City’s reticulation system, not the water being sold illegally or delivered to private homes by "profiteers across the city".
In addition to that, the City’s Health Department is erecting warning signs at all of the sites to highlight that the water quality cannot be guaranteed as safe to drink.
The City also advises against connecting a borehole water tank to the plumbing system in the home as it could result in a backflow that risks contaminating the City’s drinking water system.
"While there are many dos and don’ts for the use of alternative water sources, there is one common thread and that is that it should not be used for drinking or cooking and in most cases not for personal hygiene either."
"Reports are analysed regularly, trends are interpreted and the evidence is used to make or tweak plans. Recent examples of the system in action include the measles and listeria outbreaks last year," says Smith, adding that prevention is better than cure and the City's officials are doing regular education and awareness drives across the city.
Here are five things you need to know about spring water collection:
1. Out of the 80 springs, 70 springs are not part of the city's normal and regulated water monitoring areas and are therefore not controlled for drinking water standards.
2. Springs water quality starts decreasing after three days, depending on storage conditions and quality of the container. Always boil this water to sterilise it, if you intend to use it for anything other flushing or washing.
3. Use clean and sturdy containers of good quality with screw-closing tops, also sterilise your containers before you use them.
4. Springs water is free and any that is sold is done so illegally.
5. Springs Way in Newlands is accessible to vehicles between 07:00 and 22:00 - the city has not released a list of times for the other 9 monitored sites.
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