Delays in issuing water licenses, poor implementation of broader water resource policies, delays in investment in water infrastructure, and erosion of institutional memory in the water sector along with vandalism and theft, and the loss of experienced water engineers and scientists, are some of the contributors to a poor perception of water quality in the country.
“These challenges are like a hole in the bucket one tries to fill up with water, but continues to leak until the tap runs dry,” portfolio committee on water and sanitation chairperson Mlungisi Johnson said yesterday.
“Unless the challenges are comprehensively addressed, the improvement of water and sanitation services will remain a pipe dream,” he said, speaking in Johannesburg at the release yesterday of the 2015 water services municipal benchmarking report, which surveyed residents of the major metropoles’ perceptions of water quality.
The major municipalities did well, with Gauteng, the Western Cape and Limpopo leading the way with perception indexes of “very safe” and “safe”, according to research by the Water Research Commission (WRC).
Johannesburg’s water quality was voted the best in the country. However, as names move down the list, so does the perception of water quality. Despite above-average findings that people liked the water in their taps, a large proportion of citizens in the Eastern Cape (18%), Mpumalanga (32%) and North West Province (43%) found their water “very unsafe” and “unsafe” to drink.
Overall, the WRC found 42% of respondents thought their water was “very safe”, 46% deemed it “safe”, 8% regarded it as “unsafe”, while 3% felt their drinking water was “very unsafe”.
Among respondents nationally, 1% of people living in an urban environment still sourced their water from a river or well.
When taking a closer look at provincial level, 3% of people in Mpumalanga and 8% in KwaZulu-Natal still took water from a river or well. – firstname.lastname@example.org