Seven municipalities did not meet quality standards for drinking water – AfriForum

by Marcus Pawson, originally posted on April 20, 2016


AfriForum releases its national blue and green drop reports

20 April 2016

The civil rights organisation AfriForum tested the water and sewage quality in 132 South African towns. These tests form part of the organisation’s blue and green drop campaign, during which the communities of the various towns had been involved. Members of the community received training and the necessary equipment was sent to every AfriForum branch in South Africa.

“It is encouraging to see that community members take a stand and make a difference in their communities. Communities should demand their right to access to clean, running water and hold the various municipalities responsible by continuously monitoring the quality of drinking water and sewage. The tests showed worrisome results, however, and especially points to the decline of South Africa’s infrastructure and a shortage in competent personnel to manage these water management institutions. AfriForum requested towns that did not meet the set microbiological standards to improve their water standard within 24 hours,” said Marcus Pawson, AfriForum’s Head of Local Government.

Blue drop

The quality of drinking water was tested in municipalities across South Africa, and seven of these municipalities did not meet the quality standards for drinking water. “Die 2014 results showed that the drinking water systems of 11 towns did not meet the standards, while this figure decreased to five towns in 2015. This year, however, the figure again increased to seven towns out of 132,” Pawson added.

The municipalities that did not meet the standards are:

Towns Municipality Reason for not meeting water quality standards

According to SANS: 214 national standards there may not be any E. coli in drinking water

Pretoria West Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality High concentration of phenol and chromium
Stella Naledi Local Municipality Nitrates above allowable limit. AfriForum’s 2015 results showed for the third consecutive year 50 mg nitrates per 100 ml water, which, according to the South African Water Quality Guidelines Volume 1: Domestic Water Use, Second Edition (1996) may cause methemoglobinemia in babies.
Rayton Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality E. coli.
Witbank Emalahleni Local Municipality E. coli and faecal coliforms
Schweizer-Reneke Naledi Local Municipality Nitrate higher than allowable level
Belfast Emakhazeni Local Municipality E. coli and faecal coliforms
Piet Retief Mkhondo Local Municipality E. coli and faecal coliforms

AfriForum warned members of these communities not to drink the water, while the affected municipalities received notice to rectify the quality of their water. Follow-up monsters indicated that municipalities in Pretoria West, Stella, Rayton, Witbank and Schweizer-Reneke complied with AfriForum’s request and that the water is now clear.

Although AfriForum communicated the non-compliance of water quality standards to the municipalities of Belfast and Piet Retief, these municipalities did not resolve the crisis. In reaction, AfriForum will follow a double strategy against these municipalities: first, the organisation will take urgent legal steps against the affected municipality, and second, will launch self-do actions to address the problem.

Green drop

AfriForum also tested sewage systems in 72 towns across South Africa where there are AfriForum branches. Twenty-seven of these systems did not meet the quality standards. “AfriForum did succeed, however, in testing various municipalities’ sewage, whereas the organisation was refused access to certain sewage systems by some municipalities in the previous year. This is quite understandable if the worrisome state of the country’s sewage management is taken into consideration – on average 40% of South Africa’s sewage systems do not function within the regulatory requirements. Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal have a general decrease in sewage management, while North West and the Western Cape show improvement,” Pawson said.

“The 27 sewage treatment plants that did not meet the standards may be seen as a threat to human health, food security and the environment. The standard of sewage systems should be treated as priority in 2016 in light of the dry conditions in South Africa.”

South Africa’s national water quality standards allow for 1 000 units E. coli per 100 ml water in treated sewage.

Municipalities that do not meet these standards are:

Branch Municipality Province AfriForum green drop


AfriForum green drop


AfriForum green drop


AfriForum green drop


Apies River Tshwane Metro Gauteng 77 000 85 000 2 000
Centurion Tshwane Metro Gauteng 10 000 1000 000
Meyers Park Tshwane Metro Gauteng 2 400 11 000 10 000
Pretoria East Tshwane Metro Gauteng High concentration of faecal coliforms
Pretoria West Tshwane Metro Gauteng 12 000
Zambesi Tshwane Metro Gauteng 2 000
Alberton Ekurhuleni Metro Gauteng 3 900
Nigel Ekurhuleni Metro Gauteng High concentration of faecal coliforms
Springs Ekurhuleni Metro Gauteng 2 000
Westonaria Westonaria LM Gauteng 2 500
Cradock Inxuba Yethemba LM Eastern Cape 2 000
Belfast Emakhazeni LM Mpumalanga 19 000 690 000 5 200 >2 400
Bethal Govan Mbeki LM Mpumalanga 450 000 100 000
Delmas Victor Khanye LM Mpumalanga 1 500
Lydenburg Thaba Chweu LM Mpumalanga 1 000 000 73 400 >1 000
Piet Retief Mkhondo LM Mpumalanga >1 000
Secunda Govan Mbeki LM Mpumalanga 2000
Standerton Lekwa LM Mpumalanga 100 000 50 000
Witbank Emalahleni LM Mpumalanga 4 000
Stella Naledi LM North West >100 000 >1 000 >2 000
Wolmaransstad Maquassi Hills LM North West >1 000
Groblersdal Elias Motsoaledi LM Limpopo >1 000
Phalaborwa Ba-Phalaborwa LM Limpopo 110 000 1 300 3 700
Nylstroom Modimolle LM Limpopo >1 000
Margate Hibiscus Coast LM KwaZulu-Natal >1 100
Newcastle Newcastle LM KwaZulu-Natal 10 000 >2 000
Pongola uPongolo LM KwaZulu-Natal >1 200

AfriForum is in the process of directing letters to the above municipalities to inform them that they do not meet the set requirements. The civil rights organisation also undertakes to position itself across South Africa and undertake annual evaluations such as these to monitor infrastructure continuously.

“According to the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Blue Drop Report for 2014, 1 036 drinking water systems were tested, while only 44 systems met the requirements for blue drop status. The summarised Green Drop Report of 2013 indicated that only 60 out of 824 sewage systems enjoyed green drop status.”

Pawson is of the opinion that AfriForum’s results can be viewed as the most stable information for a national picture of South Africa’s water management, given the Department of Water and Sanitation’s withholding of its Blue Drop Report since 2014 and the Green Drop Report since 2013.

SMS the name of your town to 45354 to become involved in AfriForum’s initiative to ensure the sustainable provision of clean water and the protection of our water resources (R1 per SMS).

Learn More