Scarcity of quality water across South African provinces is beginning to pose health challenges to citizens with a number of residents claiming the SA tap water supplied now inflicts them with diseases like gastro and diarrhoea.
Cape Flats residents who spoke with Daily Voice said lament their worrisome health situation caused by the SA tap water supplied to them. The people said the tap water they now drink smells awful and tastes moldy.
Local doctors around the area confirmed an increased number of their patients complaining of stomach ailment. One of them, Dr. Harold Groenewald, said he has seen an increase in the number of gastro cases at his practice at Town Centre in Mitchells Plain.
About four patients were reportedly treated with gastro viral infections on Wednesday alone and Groenewald said this is almost the highest he has treated in a day in his experience as a doctor.
“This year there has been an awful lot of cases of diarrhoea. From my personal experience, for this time of the year, it’s definitely up from previous years,” he said, adding that the bugs don’t last very long, “24 hours and it’s over”.
Some of the residents even reported their family members being admitted at the hospital for tummy bugs and vomiting.
Omar Toefy posted on his Facebook page saying: “I realized that vomiting and runny tummy occurs when drinking water from the tap! I rather buy water.” Eva Hendricks also posted saying: “My whole family had gastro last week, you can taste the SA tap water does not taste right and it smells bad.”
Eva Hendricks also posted saying: “My whole family had gastro last week, you can taste the SA tap water does not taste right and it smells bad.”
Dr. Ellapen Rapiti, who has a practice in Eastridge, however, stated that the increase in the infection is caused by hot weather and people’s bad eating habits, not bad water.
“The weather and food left out too long impact bodies in a big way,” he says.
“If it was the SA tap water then a rapid increase in these cases would have been seen. The majority of patients have gastro because it’s gastro season.”
In words that apparently echoed Rapiti, Professor EJ Pool, who specialises in Medical Biosciences at the University of the Western Cape, said some bacteria and viruses can pass the filters [at drinking water plants], but chlorine added to water kills most of these.”
He however suggested that people boil their water before drinking.
“People also need to be more hygienic and teach their children to practice hygiene daily,” added a Jafmed pharmacist.
Meanwhile, Councillor Xanthea Limberg, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services; and Energy, denied that the SA tap water supplied by the City causes gastro.
She said the smells and taste of tap water was caused by a naturally occurring mineral called geosmin, which has an “earthy, musty taste and odour but it pose no threat to human health
“There has been geosmin in the water that has been drawn from the Theewaterskloof Dam. The City has removed it using Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC) in the water treatment process. However, even minute concentrations can still have an effect on taste/smell due to the incredible sensitivity of the human palate to the compound,” Limberg emphasised.
“We would like to assure residents that the water remains safe to drink. Water quality is closely monitored via a large number of water samples analysed according to the stringent South African National Standards (SANS 241:2015) requirements.”
Regarding cases of gastro, she reminded residents that it is still diarrhoea season.
President Jacob Zuma has however, pleaded with world leaders to increase their efforts to ensure that the billions of people around the world who do not have access to clean water supply are no longer denied this fundamental human right.
The president who opened the United Nations World Water Day commemoration in Durban, said countries in the world need to spare no effort to free men, women and children from the dehumanizing condition of extreme poverty and water scarcity.
“We have to save our most precious resource, fresh water, for future generations,” he said while pointing out that the work of the UN panel showed that access to water was interwoven with the rest of the UN’s development goals and that it would “leave nobody behind” in the bid for equitable access to water and sanitation.
Zuma said only 147 countries had met the sustainable development goals targets on drinking water and 95 on sanitation, while only 77 had met both.
“Looking ahead, this unacceptable situation will only get worse, unless we join forces around the world to create equal chances for success at all levels in our race against time to secure the most precious resource of fresh water, for current and future generations,” Zuma said.