One of the responsibilities of a Municipal Health Services function in a municipality is to ensure that clean domestic water is supplied to all residents in its jurisdiction.
Eden District Municipality (Eden DM), which also has a Municipal Health Services function, continues to adhere to the strict compliance set out by the South African National Standards (SANS) 241:2015. Complying with SANS ensures that the risks associated with the quality of domestic water, are minimised.
There are three main categories relating to limits and risks for domestic water, which include:
- Health risks: Parameters falling outside these limits may cause acute or chronic health problems in individuals
Example: Cryptosporidiosis should not be detected in drinking water, causes Flu-like symptoms, nausea may occur. Acute infection (i.e., duration shorter than two weeks), and chronic infection (i.e., duration longer than two weeks) in which symptoms are severe and persistent.
- Aesthetic risks: Parameters falling outside these limits indicate that water is visually, aromatically or palatably unacceptable.
Example: The water have a bad taste, colour and odour.
- Operational risks: Parameters falling outside these limits may indicate that operational procedures to ensure water quality standards are met may have failed.
Example: Failure in the water treatment system.
Water Quality monitoring (which is done by Environmental Health Practitioners) is therefore needed to ensure that the quality of water resources are effectively and efficiently managed. Sub-standard water quality will result in a risk for humans and the natural environment.
EHPs form part of the Municipal Health Services function of at Eden DM, and are mandated to carry out this vital function, above and beyond other functions that include:
- The monitoring of the storage, treatment, collection, handling and disposal of the various categories of waste.
- Control of food premises by issuing compliance certificates to food premises.
- Implementation of health and hygiene awareness.
- The identification, evaluation, monitoring and prevention of the pollution of soil, water and air.
- Monitoring, identification, evaluation to ensure the prevention of pest.
- Monitoring of cemeteries, crematoriums and other facilities for the disposal of corpses.
EHPs map out all the identified groundwater and surface water resources on a regular basis to identify and prevent water contamination. Monthly samples are compiled and sent to an accredited laboratory to be analysed. Reports and results are then issued to governmental and private sectors. Eden DM currently makes use of Merieux NutriSciences laboratory to provide a detailed analysis of samples.
Eden DM and Local Municipalities
The working relationship between a District and a Local Municipality is critical because it ensures that outstanding water quality management takes place. For example, Eden DM and Bitou Municipality’s Water Services collaboratively ensured that Bitou received a “Blue Drop” status. The same counts for Eden DM’s working relationship with all other Local Municipalities in the District.
Unpacking Eden and Bitou Municipality’s area and the role of both municipalities in terms of water
Bitou Municipality ensures access to basic water services for all residents through a 300km pipe system or otherwise known as a reticulation system, which varies from 50mm to 500mm in diameter.
Thirty-two water reservoirs supply 24 hours storage capacity with 16 water pump stations. Water to urban/farm areas is supplied by making use of rainwater tanks and boreholes.
All these water supplies are monitored by EHPs and monthly reports are compiled indicating the standards and quality of drinking water. EHPs educated and continues to advocate communities on proper and safe water use