Residents have expressed frustration and concern with Witbank’s water problems, such as the colour of the water and the fact that red worms have been found floating in them. In addition, they say their taps are often dry, they told Witbank News.
On December 22, the municipality explained the water discolouration in December was due to the continuous increase of manganese concentration.
They said the reason for the water failures were because of power failures and defects on critical plant components.
It must be noted, however, that the water purification plant is not designed for dissolved solids, but for suspended solids and microbiological contaminants, which is why the plant is currently under refurbishment and modification to improve manganese and iron removal efficiency.
The municipality noted on their Facebook page: “Currently, manual and labour-intensive lime-dosing operations shall be employed to boost the system such that it is able [to raise] pH to a required level (above 8.5) for manganese oxidation to take place. The existing plant configuration is unable to effectively raise the pH level more, especially when treating high manganese concentration. Commissioning of the silo system shall be a permanent solution in this regard.”
They committed to continuous water-quality monitoring to be conducted from the resource to the consumer to ensure effective risk monitoring. But residents say they have failed.
The worms that some residents found in their water was identified as being a larva from a fly. These larvae are also known as bloodworms, because of the red colouring.
Because of the colour of the water, residents are currently unable to do laundry and cooking, let alone drink water from the tap.
A Facebook post asking Witbank News readers what they thought of the water situation opened a floodgate of anger. The post was seen by 14,403 people and 114 comments were received.
Witbank News asked the municipality to confirm whether there were pressure release valves in the water pipes as air was being pushed through the pipes instead of water. This could be one of the main reasons why residents are complaining about unusually high water meter readings.
The municipality was also asked why the reservoirs were not all full to capacity at the same time. The municipality’s reason for the ongoing water interruptions was that the reservoirs had to be isolated to give the other reservoirs chance to fill up.
The questions about the brown colour in the water and the red worms were raised, but by the time going to print, there was no feedback from the municipality regarding this issue.