Faster, easier way to test water quality

Despite the country’s water scarcity, waste water pumped into the rivers and dams is often not clean enough, polluting this increasingly scarce resource.
According to the latest Green Drop Report, which measures the health of the country’s waste water infrastructure, more than 80% of SA’s waste-water treatment facilities are not functioning properly.
Only 135 of the 824 waste-water treatment facilities are functioning well.
This means that human effluent and waste are entering the country’s water systems, threatening the health and livelihood of people who depend on rivers and dams for potable water or for irrigation.
Testing water for pathogens such as E Coli is difficult.
The CSIR’s rapid test, known as ColiSpot, can test for E Coli within a day, says Klariska Moodley, a senior research engineer and project manager at the CSIR.
The ColiSpot system consists of a flow test, which is similar to a home pregnancy test, a filter and incubation gear, which includes an oven and nutrients to grow bacteria.
After six hours, you can test for the presence of E Coli, says Moodley.
She says results for municipal Blue Drop, or potable water quality, and Green Drop (sewerage outflow water quality) are falling across the country.
"We aim to keep the cost of the test below R50 a sample, but when large-scale manufacturing is taken into account, this price could be further reduced," Moodley says.

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