Water in South Africa

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The South African Constitution states that everyone has the right to have access to sufficient water.

Our drinking water comes from two sources, surface water (rainfall and its runoff into rivers or dams), or groundwater (water that has collected in underground stores or aquifers).

The primary responsibility for the provision of safe drinking water rests with your Water Services Authority (Local or District Municipality). Water Services Authorities have a legal responsibility to:

  • Monitor the quality of drinking water provided to consumers;
  • Compare the results to national drinking water standards, and
  • Communicate any health risks to consumers and appropriate authorities

Other important role-players responsible for safe drinking water are the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Department of Health. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is responsible for managing South Africa’s water resources for all its people, and also regulating the provision of drinking water by Water Services Authorities.

The Department of Health is responsible for coordinating incidents of water-related diseases in South Africa and also providing interventions under emergency drinking water conditions. The Environmental Health Officers within the Water Services Authorities, are responsible for empowering the community through the provision of health and hygiene education, as well as undertaking drinking water quality monitoring at the point-of-use.

National drinking water standards are set to ensure the protection of public health. The South African National Standard (SANS) 241 Drinking Water Specification is the definitive reference on acceptable limits for drinking water quality in South Africa and provides guideline levels for a range of water quality characteristics. SANS 241 limits are comparable to international drinking water quality guidelines.

If you would like more information about your drinking water quality, you can get it from:

  • Your local Water Services Authority (Municipality): You can see the results from water quality testing at your Water Services Authority. Customers Services staff will explain the results of tests and also tell you what is being done to rectify failures.
  • The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry: Additional information on drinking water quality sampling, analysis, assessment, treatment and management can be found in the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Department of Health and Water Research Commission guides on the Quality of Domestic Water Supplies.
  • More detailed information is available in the Drinking Water Quality Framework for South Africa which is accessible from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (Water Services Regulation (012) 336 6583 / 6870 / 6871), or your Regional Department of Water Affairs and Forestry office:
    • Northern Cape (053) 830 8800
    • Western Cape (021) 950 7100
    • Eastern Cape (043) 604 5400
    • Gauteng (012) 392 1300
    • North West (018) 384 3270
    • Limpopo (015) 290 1200
    • Mpumalanga (013) 759 7300
    • Kwa-Zulu Natal (031) 336 2700
    • Free State (051) 405 9000

Source: Department of Water Affairs and Forestry

Tap Water in South Africa

South Africans are served with the highest quality drinking water. Our country’s standards compare well with World Health Organisation limits, which have been adopted as standards for the European Union and other developed countries, including Canada and Australia.

Current Bottled Water Standards and Government Regulations in South Africa are still very lax with no official body having the authority and teeth to enforce or police the requirements. Any standards that are being adhered to are purely voluntary. While this makes this industry particularly attractive as a small business venture it also leaves and enormous opportunity open to unscrupulous operators supplying the public with sub standard quality of Bottled Water. (1)

For those who feel tap water is any less clean than bottled water, filters may be purchased; buying filter cartridges once or twice a year requires much fewer resources than buying bottled water each day.

It is convenient having purified water on tap, and not having to go and buy 5L bottles every week, and store them in your home somewhere.

This solution is not only safe and convenient but up to 100 times cheaper than drinking bottled water. According to Tony Marchesini, director of water purifying specialists, H2O International SA, the cost of filtered tap water ranges from between R0.03 per litre and R0.16 per litre – depending on the model of water filter installed. The cheapest bottled water one can buy at the moment at major retailers costs R11.89 for five litres, making it R2,38 per litre.

Filling up from the Tap into a suitable container means you avoid all the hazards of Bottled Water.

(1) http://nbws.org/

Natural Water Spring Locations

Location Map coming soon!

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