High levels of harmful bacteria in Tembisa water - DA

Genevieve Quintal, News24

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance has warned people in Tembisa, on Johannesburg's East Rand, to avoid water in the area because high levels of harmful bacteria have been found.

"The water contains extremely high levels of E.coli bacteria – acceptable levels are 1 000, the levels found in Tembisa water is 43 000," DA MP Mike Waters said in a statement.

"The water also contains exceptionally high levels of general bacteria – the acceptable level is 5 000, the level in Tembisa water is 490 000."

Due to sewage leaking into the water, the level of coliforms - which consist of human and animal faeces - is 80 000. The acceptable level is only 30.

The DA sent water samples from the Kaalspruit river for testing and it addressed media on Tuesday on the poor water quality in Tembisa.

It has threatened to take the matter to the South African Human Rights Commission.

Tembisa falls under the Ekurhuleni metro municipality.

Municipality spokesperson Themba Gadebe told News24 the water in question is not for drinking.

"The metro provides running water only from the municipality's water system, which is certified safe for drinking," he said.

"It is, in fact, a Kaalspruit stream that was affected by blockages."

This was caused by foreign objects thrown into the sewerage system, he said.

Gadebe said Ekurhuleni was given a blue drop status by the water affairs department for its clean tap water.

"It is therefore misleading to suggest that people are drinking or using the Kaalspruit stream for any household activities, including bathing, cleaning or cooking.

"While the infrastructure requires attention, it must be noted that the main causes of sewer blockages are foreign objects that are dumped in the sewer system."

The DA said it has circulated a petition in the area calling on the municipality to take urgent action to ensure the water is safe for residents to use.

The petition will be handed to the council at the end of the month and will be submitted to Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

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