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7th Jun 2022

Architect Africa Online

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Nelson Mandela Bay’s water supply “could present a risk to human health if ingested”

Immediate action needed after NMB municipality possibly puts residents’ health at risk with tainted water supply

by Cllr Annette Lovemore – Member of the Nelson Mandela Bay Infrastructure and Engineering portfolio committee

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor, Cllr Eugene Johnson, to express our concerns after the municipality finally admitted that the Metro’s water supply is not safe for human consumption.

This admission only followed after the municipality’s hand was legally forced by the Democratic Alliance (DA). We submitted two PAIA applications requesting the results of testing concluded on the discoloured and dirty water flowing from residents’ taps.

Even after being forced to admit that the water “could present a risk to human health if ingested,” the municipality has not released the exact findings of the results.

How bad is the water, what “microbiological limits” were exceeded and by how much?

The DA has been asking questions about the water quality since January 2022. On 7 February 2022 Ward 7 Cllr Brendon Pegram submitted a PAIA application to get answers from the municipality. He was ignored.

Yesterday, 21 February 2022, I also submitted a PAIA application and only then did the municipality come clean about the state of the water. The Metro previously released official communication that the water was safe to drink, but serious doubts have now been cast on this.

How long have the residents of the Metro been consuming water that is unfit for domestic use? The municipality must take the people of NMB into its confidence.

The DA will continue with our PAIA applications to get the full test results released. We will also be tabling a motion at the next full council meeting, moving that the following steps be taken:

  • An urgent investigation be launched by the Acting City Manager and a report submitted to council in relation to the circumstances that led to the deterioration of our water quality in NMB;
  • That a further investigation be launched and a report submitted to council into the actions of the Department of Water and Sanitation with regards to their official communications in respect of NMB water quality;
  • Provide a detailed plan on how the water will be rendered safe for human consumption, and a detailed timeline on when residents will be able to drink the water.

The DA will take this matter up with the Office of the Public Protector and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) if the municipality refuses to take action after possibly endangering the health of the people of Nelson Mandela Bay.


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