90 municipalities fall short of clean drinking water standard

  • The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has ordered 90 munipalities to address the quality of its drinking water.
  • The DWS shared its recent findings in the Green Drop report, following cholera outbreaks in parts of Johannesburg and Tshwane.
  • The 2022 version of the report found that 334 out of 850 municipal wastewater systems in the 90 municipalities are in critical condition.

This week the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) issued non-compliance notices to 90 municipalities across the country, ordering them to improve the quality of their drinking water.

The orders come on the back of the Green Drop Report and recent outbreaks of cholera in Johannesburg and Tshwane. The latter region in particular has dealt with a low standard in drinking water for close to two decades

The Drop Reports, which consists of the Green, Blue and No Drop reports, were released by the DWS, indicating a serious decline in drinking water quality and an increase in non-revenue water since the last reports were issued in 2022.

Last year’s report released in April found that 334 out of 850 municipal wastewater systems in 90 municipalities were in critical condition, receiving Green Drop scores of 30 percent and below. The latest Green Drop Report, discovered that 50 percent of municipalities, whose waste water treatment systems were found to be in a critical state last year, have failed to develop and implement plans to improve them.

According to DWS Director-General, Dr Sean Phillips, who delivered the findings of the most recent Reports, 248 out of 824 municipal wastewater systems were in critical condition, declinen between the period of 2013 to 2022.

He further highlighted that far too few municipalities have created action plans, with less than half requesting assistance from the DWS on this urgent issue.

“By March 2023, only 34 of the 168 plans submitted to the department were being implemented, with the balance being in planning phase or no progress reported. For those municipalities which did not submit corrective action plans, the DWS has issued directives in terms of the National Water Act, compelling them to submit such plans. Criminal charges have been laid against some of the municipalities which have not submitted corrective action plans,” Phillips pointed out.

Whether the threat of legal action will compel municipalities to tackle the quality of their drinking water remains to be seen, but given that it has taking the death of South African citizens to prompt action, our hopes are non-existent.

You can read the full media statement on the Drop Reports from the DWS portal here.

[Image – Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash]


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