Capetonians are doing their level best to save water, some have even tapped into unground sources to sustain their households. The City of Cape Town has cautioned people about the quality of underground water and the potential health risks. They have also emphasised that the only consumable water is municipal water.

Yesterday, the City’s Health Department released a statement saying it is increasing the list of springs designated for sampling amid the growing popularity of this water source.

“The only source of safe drinking water remains the municipal water provided through the City’s reticulation system. The water is sampled from formal sampling points across the city on a weekly basis and analysed at the City’s accredited Scientific Services Laboratory. The municipal water continues to comply with the SANS 241 standard for potable water. The City is proud of its Blue Drop Status for drinking water and will continue to ensure that safe drinking water is supplied through its reticulation system,” the statement read.

People must be aware that springs and water streams do not form part of the City’s water reticulation system and are not monitored and controlled for drinking water standards, the quality can therefore not be guaranteed as safe to consume.

“Until now, only 10 springs, located among residential areas, have been sampled once a month but more sites are being added to the list. However, the testing only includes microbiological tests for disease-forming agents such as E coli and coliforms. City Health is erecting warning signs at all of the sites to highlight that the water quality cannot be guaranteed as safe to drink.

“Borehole water is not suitable for drinking or cooking either. 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.”

Capetonians are advised to limit use of borehole water to flushing of toilets and for the cleaning of outside working surfaces and garden irrigation, within the guidelines of Level 6B water restrictions.

The city has also compiled a comprehensive guide for the safe and responsible use of greywater:

They further said that residents should also be reminded that stored drinking water should also be handled with care as it can easily grow bacteria and algae and pose a health risk. Water quality starts decreasing after three days, depending on storage conditions and container quality and residents are advised to:

  • use clean and sturdy containers of good quality with screw-closing tops.
  • get a container that has a tap fitted.
  • mark the containers ‘For drinking water only’.
  • store the containers in a cool dark place.
  • rinse and sanitize the containers and taps once a week, using unperfumed household bleach.


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