Row over cholera claim.

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Health effects, Water Contamination
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Article courtesy by Montsho Matlala | November 13, 2012 | Source: The New Age

Residents of Polokwane fear an outbreak of cholera after it was claimed by the DA that drinking water supplied by the local municipality “is contaminated”.

As a result, a row has erupted between the Polokwane municipality and the opposition party, which has demanded an explanation from the municipality and for action to be taken by the provincial government to avoid “a looming crisis”.

DA councillor Frank Haas said the party had approached an independent consultant to test water samples at the city’s waste water plant on the Sand River.

He said the tests were done following numerous complaints from residents about “negligence” at the settling ponds at the plant.

“The findings are that faecal coliforms and E coli levels are described as “well over the limits and dangerous” – with a faecal coliform count of over 200000 while the department of water affairs’ specification is a limit of 1000.

“The possibility of a cholera outbreak under these circumstances is considered to be high,” said Haas.

According to the findings, water in the aquifer has “most probably been contaminated for hundreds of metres downstream”.

Haas continued: “We will engage the department of cooperative governance, human settlement and traditional affairs MEC Clifford Motsepe to intervene and avert this looming calamity.”

In response, the municipal spokesperson Simon Mokoatedi dismissed the cholera claims as inaccurate.

“There were no pathogenic organisms tested. No relevant tests were conducted to confirm the vibrio cholera that is alleged, but only an analysis of the indicative organisms was conducted,” explained Mokoatedi.

He said the municipality prided itself in providing some of the cleanest and safest drinking water in the country. He said water samples were tested on a weekly basis.

Mokoatedi added: “The municipality will only provide water to the community if it complies with the national standard.

“And therefore anyone who is interested in testing the quality of our drinking water is welcome to do so.”

He however conceded that the municipality was aware of the high E coli levels at the sewage discharge point. He said that was caused by the current refurbishment of the maturation ponds.

“Chlorine is dosed at the discharge point on a daily basis. The level of Ecoli is expected to normalise after the cleaning of the maturation ponds,” Mokoatedi said.

Meanwhile, the municipality has embarked on projects to fight the waste smell in the city, including the Mankweng and Seshego townships.

The unpleasant odour emanates from the three waste water plants of the municipality.

montshom@thenewage.co.za

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