High levels of E. coli in a Joburg Botanic Garden waterfall after a sewage spill

Dr Faryal Adam, Executive Director at WaterCAN, said citizen activism is one way locals can lend a helping hand to address the dire situation of water in the country. Daily Maverick At the launch of the organisation’s Water Testing Week, which found high levels of pollution at one of Johannesburg’s major water features.

“Our water is in a state of disrepair. Yes, in the city of Johannesburg we can drink tap water, but the high levels of pollution are putting a strain on the system. It will cost more to clean up, and we need constant monitoring.”

Water samples are placed on the red dot, which then indicates water quality. (Photo: Bruce Smith/OTA)

“Look at what’s happening with Joburg and Rand Water; things are falling apart. There’s something going on in terms of infrastructure – we’re not quite clear on the details, but it’s concerning. That’s why it’s important for us to test. So we’re using testing as a starting point; Adam: “We need to build this network of active citizen scientists to monitor water across the country.”

Read more at Daily Maverick: Johannesburg Water says it is not us, but Rand Water, that is cutting off Johannesburg’s supply

The initiative was launched at the Walter Sisulu National Botanic Garden in Roodepoort, on Johannesburg’s West Rand. The park features luxurious grounds, including a magnificent waterfall. However, water testing showed signs of pollutants in the water flowing from the waterfall into the river that runs through the national park.

Results obtained from the river water tested showed high levels of total chlorine, coliforms and E. coli. Some of the contaminants are from a sewage spill into the waterfall on Sunday, said Andrew Hankey, WSNBG’s assistant curator. Daily Maverick.

“We were not surprised that there were E. coli and coliform bacteria in the river,” Hankey said. He pointed out that there is a sewage leak and the municipality is working to solve it. “They tried to solve the problem by applying a clamp on Sunday but we found out that the clamp was leaking and reported it to them. They said they would come back (Tuesday) to put in a different tool to solve the problem,” Hankey said.

Water testing

Water samples were taken for testing by groups at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens. (Photo: Bruce Smith/OTA)

He added: “It is important for us and the ecosystem that the waterways are managed properly and kept as clean as possible. We acknowledge that (the waterfall) is located in an urban area and that sewer pipes and leaks occur, and most of the time, the system we work with works with agents.” Our municipality resolves leaks reasonably quickly and is very well managed.

Hankey said that the river’s natural filtration system helped purify the water from pollutants, and also improved the quality of water from the river’s entrances to its outlets in the park lands.

Dr Adam said the chlorine levels were alarming. She indicated that there is an initiative to purify wastewater. However, she said a large amount of chlorine in the water could be dangerous, citing reports of a carcinogen. A byproduct of chlorine Found in the waters of Nelson Mandela Bay.

Adam said finding such results from test kits highlighted areas of concern about water quality and held water agents accountable. She added that it is important to raise awareness to address the issues faced by affected communities.

Read more at Daily Maverick: The Citizens Network Initiative opens a criminal case against the City of Johannesburg after a year-long sewage leak

When WaterCAN, an arm of Undoing Tax Offenses (Outa), started two years ago, it had 80 volunteers in its network of citizen activists. This year, the organization includes 600 activists in all nine provinces of the country, to whom the organization distributed more than 1,100 test kits as part of its water testing initiative.

“The bottom line is we can’t wait for the government to fix (the water problem) because it won’t; They fail miserably. “This water is too important to us to leave it to them to fix it, or join them to fix it… If we wait for the government to fix things, we will end up in a country where we won’t be able to drink the water.”

Read more at Daily Maverick: Critical but stable – Water quality and infrastructure in South Africa rated

WaterCAN’s Water Testing Week runs from September 17 to 24, coinciding with World Water Monitoring Day on September 18 and World River Day on September 24. The results of the tests conducted by the volunteers will be uploaded to the organization “Map of my waters” A website that informs citizens about the water situation in several areas of the country.

Water testing

A map showing water quality from tests conducted by citizen water activists across the country. (Map: WaterCAN)

“It’s worrying to me, because this is a botanical garden, and it needs to be protected, as does the environment. At least 60% of the river ecosystems are at risk,” Adam said.

“This is not the end; I think it will get worse if we don’t start doing something on the ground to make a difference and start protecting the water and repairing the infrastructure. Deutschmark


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