sewage seepage – the water crisis continues

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2008-02-26 12:00

Sewage from scores of badly-run municipal treatment works is spilling into rivers across the country every day, raising fears about further outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

Tap water in the big cities remains among the safest in the world, but the quality of drinking water in many small towns has been described as "unacceptably poor" by local water engineers who will be presenting research findings at a conference in Spain next month.

Another major problem identified in research is the waste of millions of litres of clean drinking water as a result of leaks in municipal pipes or in poorly-maintained household toilets and taps.

One of the worst examples was Sebokeng township, where up to 80 percent of the municipal water supply was found to be leaking away.

Earlier this month Water Affairs Minister Lindiwe Hendricks emphatically denied suggestions that the country was facing a water distribution "crisis" similar to the Eskom electricity collapse.

Nevertheless, some of the country's most prominent engineers and senior officials in her department have been warning about the urgent need to prevent poorly-maintained municipal water infrastructure from falling apart because of neglect and short-sighted cost-saving. [IOL]

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