Boil before drinking our water, says municipality


Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

The drought has been blamed for an outbreak of diarrhoea which prompted the Joe Gqabi district municipality to urge all residents to boil municipal water before drinking it.

While municipality spokesperson Mandla Gceya tried to play down the problem, he said there was a high risk of water quality failure due to stressed water resources and alternative water being used.

The municipality serves 372,911 people in three municipalities — Walter Sisulu, (Aliwal North, Burgersdorp), Senqu (Barkley East), Elundini (Maclear) — according to the 2016 Stats SA community survey.

“Joe Gqabi district municipality has been declared a disaster area because of the severe drought,” Gceya said.

“The call to boil water was an attempt to manage any potential health risk. The district municipality is warning people to be cautious.”

He added that they were continuing to test the water.

“There is no increase in the reported diarrhoea cases that are outside the norm for this time of the year. Warm seasons typically have higher incidences of diarrhoea, but not all diarrhoea cases are water-related,” he said.

DA councillor Marina van Zyl said: “The dams are low and that leads to water restrictions. The region was declared a disaster area about two months ago after the premier declared the province a disaster area.”

Van Zyl said government officials had gone to the district to see where R5,7m would be spent on disaster alleviation.

“In Burgersdorp alone, the JL de Bruin Dam is sitting between 10% and 15%, and is so silted up that the water is barely usable, which is why the municipality issued the notice to people to boil their water.”

She said that in Burgersdorp there were no boreholes and the town only had water every third day for seven hours from 5am to noon.

She said leaks were reported to the district municipality, but were not being repaired immediately.

“The town used to depend on two dams, the Chiappinis Klip dam which is now sitting at zero percent, and the JL de Buin,” she said.

She said the R5,7m was not enough to do something about the water shortage.


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