Gela denies water ‘contamination’

dirty water

Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) mayor, Wongama Gela, has rubbished claims that the entity’s water is contaminated and had led to the stomach bug rumoured to be affecting residents since early December.

This follows claims from many residents in Komani that a stomach bug has led to severe diarrhoea, caused by water from the taps.

Residents from various areas in Komani took to social media complaining about the dirty appearance of the water from taps, alleging they had suffered from diarrhoea after drinking the water.

CHDM acting municipal manager Bheki Mthembu, said in a statement on December 24 that they noted an increase in water demand which had resulted in extreme water shortages in various areas around Komani.

We therefore plan to open one of our plants that is still under maintenance. This may affect the quality of water and ‘expose’ people if no steps are taken prior to drinking. As a precautionary measure, we strongly recommend that drinking water be boiled prior to consumption. This is to ensure that human health is not affected in any manner. This boil alert is valid until January 13, as we would have completed our maintenance on the second water treatment plant by then,” he said at the time.

However, mayor Gela dismissed allegations from residents about the water causing a stomach bug, stating they had confirmed with Frontier Hospital that there had not been anyone treated for illnesses related to water contamination.

The district municipality takes pride in maintaining good water quality and providing safe drinking water is its prime focus. The complaints happened during a time when there are stomach bug outbreaks which is the festive season – we also need to factor this in.

When we heard about the rumoured outbreak we thought people must have been going to the Frontier Hospital for treatment, so the health institution was our first point of departure to confirm the matter.

We spoke to officials there and the allegations could not be confirmed.”

Gela said to further ensure CHDM water was clean, they took a sample and tested it, and the results indicated the water was safe for consumption.

The message we sent out that people needed to boil water before drinking was merely an extra precautionary measure. We noticed the water appeared to be dirty due to our water treatment plant still being under maintenance. We also realised the influx of people coming to Komani for holidays greatly contributed to the pressure on water demand due to the temporary population increase.

We had to operate the plant while it was still undergoing maintenance, so the water was not clear. We did the test to ease the doubt and eliminate the rumours about water contamination. We test the water on a regular basis, but we did this particular one in December when the rumour surfaced. Residents were asked to boil water until January 13, after this date we will have clear water.”

The mayor said there were many factors that influenced the unclean appearance of water, the first being the damaging of valves by residents, and being left open for dirt to get in. He said the other matter was low water levels in dams where water was extracted from mud.

Gela encouraged residents to use water sparingly as the drought was not over, and with minimal rain the chance of filling dams was not good at present.

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