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Is South Africa’s drinking water OK?

Water is essential to all life on earth, and in solidarity with the focus on World Water this past month, the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) applauds our municipalities for their continued monitoring of, and attention to, the quality of our drinking water.

South Africa has the distinction of being one of only twelve countries in the world where it is safe to drink our tap water. As at 2012, the good news is that the quality of South African tap water is ranked as third best overall.

South African municipalities have wholeheartedly embraced the international Blue Drop certification programme which is an incentive-based initiative that is used to regulate water services bodies worldwide in order to improve and maintain the quality of tap drinking water. Blue Drop certification covers a multitude of aspects of water management.

Deidre Nxumalo-Freeman, President of the IWMSA says “In South Africa, our constitution dictates that access to safe drinking water is a basic human right. The Department of Water Affairs instituted the Blue Drop programme in 2008 and since then, we have largely seen continuous improvement in the rankings of our municipalities in respect of drinking water quality.

“One source of our water is groundwater, water that collects underground from runoff; we consider it essential that people are aware of how easily our water tables can become contaminated through bad waste management practices. We also need to be vigilant when it comes to maintaining and upgrading the infrastructures that allow us to have a high quality of drinking water.

“The IWMSA is strongly focused on education and training, and has worked effectively with a number of municipal bodies in order to better equip them with an understanding of the importance of effective waste management issues from the ground up. As such we believe in the efficacy of getting a message across, particularly to those working at grass roots level, in order to engender a greater appreciation of the importance of their various functions.

Nxumalo-Freeman concludes “Whilst our local and district municipalities are responsible for ensuring that we have access to safe drinking water, the quality of which must be regularly monitored and measured to see whether it matches up to national drinking water standards; we must all assist in the process and we believe that the IWMSA has an important role to play in creating awareness along with empowerment through information.”

The IWMSA is a non-profit organisation comprising a body of dedicated professionals in their respective fields, who give freely and voluntarily of their time and expertise in order to effectively educate, promote and further the science and practice of waste management.



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