Water Wednesday: Safety tips for storing and drinking water

The City of Cape Town’s Health Department is increasing the list of springs designated for sampling amid the growing popularity of this water source.

This initiative is but one of several key interventions to safeguard the public in a time of increased reliance on alternative water sources such as springs, boreholes and well points and greywater.

The only source of safe drinking water remains the municipal water provided through the City’s reticulation system. The water is sampled from formal sampling points across the city on a weekly basis and analysed at the City’s accredited Scientific Services Laboratory.

Water springs and streams do not form part of the City’s water reticulation system and are not monitored and controlled for drinking water standards. Borehole water is not suitable for drinking or cooking either.

The City advises against connecting a borehole water tank to the plumbing system in the home as it could result in a backflow that risks contaminating the City’s drinking water system. They advise people to use this water only for flushing toilets and outside garden services.

The city’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety, Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith said that the common thread for use of alternative water sources is that it should not be used for drinking or cooking and in most cases not for personal hygiene either.

Here are some safety tips:

Stored drinking water should also be handled with care as it can easily grow bacteria and algae and pose a health risk.

Water quality starts decreasing after three days, depending on storage conditions and container quality and residents are advised to:

  • Use clean and sturdy containers of good quality with screw-closing tops.
  • Get a container that has a tap fitted.
  • Mark the containers ‘For drinking water only’.
  • Store the containers in a cool dark place.
  • Rinse and sanitize the containers and taps once a week, using unperfumed household bleach.

Here is your weekly dam update:

The Vaal River System consisting of 14 dams serving mainly Gauteng Sasol and Eskom is at 93.6%.

The Cape Town Dams System consisting of six dams serving mainly City of Cape Town this week is at 22.9%.

Here are the latest dam percentages throughout the country:


For a more in depth rainfall update, visit WeatherSA or click here. For more information on the water storage levels across the country, visit the DWS site. For a comprehensive drought status report from the Department of Water and Sanitation, click here.


Caxton Central

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