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If in doubt... don't drink the water!

When it comes to clean drinking water, South Africans shouldn't be surprised to find out that drinkable tap water might be a thing of the past.


carte blanche

Clean, unpolluted drinking water is a right for all South Africans, but over the years there have been reports that present solid evidence of acid mine water, urban waste, and failing water filtration systems pollution poisoning our valuable water reservoirs. Now we face the growing presence of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria).

You can lay the blame wherever you will, but as water reservoirs evaporate due to the heat and lack of rain, our access to clean drinking water becomes even more bleaker. This weekend alone I witnessed cars being washed, driveways being cleaned, and pavements being watered by sprinkler systems. Are we really so naive to think that water restrictions are not that important.





If you missed the Carte Blanche report on blue-green algae on Sunday 15 November, here's a recap:

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE (cyanobacteria)

This is a toxic bacteria that grows in warmer, nutrient-rich water that releasing several toxins that could pose serious health risks to humans and animals. At the moment about two thirds of our national resource is contaminated by cyanobacteria and there are serious concerns that such high levels of contamination pose a threat to drinking water, agricultural and recreational water use.

Discolouration of water is the most obvious sign of blue-green algae contamination. The next indication is if the water gives off an unpleasant smell. Signs of foam or scum on the surface of the water could also be a sign of blue-green algae.


At the moment there is no effective treatment method available. While water treatment plants use a filtering process to remove most of the cyanobacteria from supplied water before they reach our taps, there isn’t a large-scale treatment method to treat entire bodies of water at once. Fortunately, you are able to eliminate the toxin from your home drinking water by using commercially available water-filtration systems that contain activated carbon. I have been using a Blue Spot home water purification system for about 6 years. Every 12 months I contact Blue Spot to replace the cartridges and check that everything is functioning properly.



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