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Water-shedding a health threat: UCT expert

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University of Cape Town’s civil engineering Professor Kobus van Zyl says although water-shedding may save water in the short term, it badly affects water quality.

This comes after the Free State became the first province in the country to implement scheduled water-shedding across all municipalities.

“All water distribution systems in the world have leaks in the pipes where water leaks out when the system is operating normally. Under water-shedding, water is allowed to empty. This means that water and soil on the outside of the pipe can now enter the pipe through the holes and cracks – since there is no water pressure in the pipe to prevent this,” Van Zyl told News24.

He said water around pipes was often polluted from the surface water.

“Micro-organisms entering pipes through leaks have time to multiply and attach to the pipe walls. Thus when water is then moving through the pipes when the water is switched back on, the contaminants are transported to user’s taps,” he said.

Van Zyl said chlorine that was added to drinking water often failed to disinfect the pipes sufficiently, and could lead to illness.

“Never drink water that is delivered from a water distribution system that is subjected to water-shedding – when water-shedding is implemented, water should always be boiled before using it for drinking or cooking,” he said.

Meanwhile, water supply in the province is expected to be interrupted between 21:00 and 5:00 every day.

Free State residents in certain municipalities will be fined between R2 000 to R20 000 if they are found wasting water during the province’s current drought.

Last week, Premier Ace Magashule said in a statement that the Free State had less than 30 days of water supply remaining in its reserves and that the misuse of water and failure to adhere to restrictions would exacerbate the situation.

The statement also said health facilities would be most affected during the drought. News24

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