water debate umuziwabantu

There’s a risk of water contamination during ‘water shedding’

The City of Cape Town, however, assures everyone that they’re keeping an eye on things and monitor water quality closely.

water debate umuziwabantu

Water shedding” has been a thing in Cape Town since October, in a bid to combat high water usage as the city continues to grapple with its worst ever drought.

While the exact details of the “water shedding” remains unclear, but the city did say that it will be turning off the taps in areas where there is high consumption, IOL reports.

And while shutting down the guzzlers makes logical sense, it does come with a risk, according to Professor Kobus van Zyl, of UCT’s department of civil engineering.

“Even though water treatment cleans water very well, there remain very small particles in the water that settle out in the pipes with low-flow velocities, such as dead-end pipes.”

“There are also particles that come from inside the pipe itself. When pipes are emptied and then filled again, he explained that the settled particles are “suspended, creating discoloured water”.

There is also a slight risk that contaminated ground water and soil particles could enter the water system through leaks and openings in the pipes when they are emptied. This doesn’t happen when the pipes are full, because of the water pressure inside of them keeping everything out. Turning the system on and off can also add extra stress and increase the risk of failure.

Can I still drink the water if it is discoloured?

Mostly, yes. Use home filtration systems or boil the water prior to drinking after there has been an interruption.

The city’s mayor, Patrica de Lille did warn that there could be changes to the “bulk water distribution system could intermittently impact on clarity or taste within various areas of the city”.

“Resultant flow changes in some of the water pipelines may temporarily cause cloudiness or a slight discolouration in the water. Residents with sensitive palates may also notice a slight change in the taste of their water.”

De Lille also said that residents might experience an “earthy taste and odour” to drinking water. She, however, reassured everyone that this is a “naturally occurring compound and is neither toxic nor harmful to health”.

Water quality is being continuously monitored and all supplied water “will be entirely safe” for human consumptions.

“We advise residents to keep the discoloured water, which initially flows from their taps in these cases, and to please not waste it. This water can be reused for flushing toilets.”