While there are areas in South Africa that require urgent intervention, tap water remains safe to drink in most cities and towns, with a national average of 93 percent.
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) released a study on the quality of drinking water and various aspects to consider before purchasing a home water treatment device (filter).
There are still concerns about the tap water quality provided in certain regions in South Africa, with consumers uncomfortable about consuming it without further treatment of the water at home. This has opened up the market for the sale of home water treatment devices to consumers who are not always aware of what they are buying.
“The are various reasons as to how water can be contaminated namely, sanitation practices, dirty wash cloths and plumbing. Before making a decision on buying a water filter or not, you as an individual must first know about the quality of your drinking water as well as the impact of these,” said UJ’s Dr Tobias Barnard of the Faculty of Health Sciences
Water that has been processed will result in higher chlorine levels, though a small amount of chlorine is needed to prevent bacterial growth in pipes.
Sanitation practices in your house can influence your water quality and the faucet outside your tap can become contaminated from various sources. Contaminants can also enter your water when the tap is open. Diarrhoea is not only caused by waterborne bacteria but can also enter your household via children, contaminated food or unsanitary practices.
The South African Department of Water & Environmental Affairs (DWEA) initiated the Blue Drop Certification Programme in September 2008 to introduce key requirements for the effective, efficient and transparent management of drinking water by municipalities and any institution involved with the treatment and provision of water.
DWEA recently launched the Blue Drop Certification system, a campaign that encourages local municipalities to improve their water quality management while empowering consumers with the right information about what is coming out of their taps.
Dr Barnard said: “When using a filter make sure that you make use of the one that suits your needs, one which corresponds with the water problem that you are experiencing. There are certain areas that have really good water whilst others are problematic. Filters can however solve problems in areas where water is contaminated.”