Levels of feacal matter in the Vaal river have recently caused an outcry, and experts say the crisis is not confined to that water source, with one source saying current filtration methods are unable to prevent toxins from blue-green algae entering our drinking water.
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation have blamed lack of investment and maintenance by Emfuleni and Sedibeng municipalities for the contamination of the Vaal River. Add to this the drought in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape and it is clear that we are in a much more complex water crisis than many realized, despite the warnings of experts over the past decade.
Non-profit Save the Vaal Environment (SAVE), on its website , states: “The deteriorating (and possibly life threatening) quality of the water of the Vaal River system including the Vaal Dam has reached crisis proportions… The Vaal River has become a dumping ground for toxic effluent from industry, mining and municipal waste water works. Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is a reality and a further threat to the sensitive ecological environment of the Vaal River. SAVE’s focus area is the part of the Vaal River where the aquatic ecosystem is most compromised and where the greatest human health risk is posed.”
Professor at the University of the Free State’s Centre for Environmental Management, Anthony Turton says that fixing the problem of the Vaal alone will cost R800 billion to R1 trillion.
He recently noted on SABC2’s Fokus that the Vaal “is a very good indicator of what is happening in the rest of the country. In fact, some of the smaller municipalities have got even less capacity to manage [pollution], so although the impact is smaller because the volumes are smaller, [the effect of pollution] is no less significant in, for example, in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, some parts of KZN. … We are seeing systemic failure, systemic collapse. Across the entire water sector we are seeing collapse…”
In his paper “Water pollution and South Africa’s Poor”, published in 2016 by the South African Institute of Race Relations , Turton states: “South Africa has 824 wastewater treatment works for processing sewage effluent. This liquid waste is discharged
back into rivers and then drawn by the 1,085 water treatment plants and processed into drinking water…. The total volume of effluent treated daily is 5.13 billion litres. Of this total volume of sewage, only 16%, or 836m litres per day (ml/d) is treated to a standard safe for discharge back into rivers and dams. The rest, the staggering sum of 4.3 billion litres daily, or 84%, is discharged in untreated, or at best, partially-treated form.”
“…Sewage effluent becomes even more complex when water receives an excess of nutrients. This leads to algae blooms … As Earth’s oldest life form, cyanobacteria has had billions of years to evolve and produce a complex array of chemical compounds, some useful, but most, highly toxic. The hazardous compounds include a group of chemicals known as cyanotoxins …”
At the end of the interview on Fokus, Turton emphasised that it’s not just what you see in the water that’s dangerous but what you don’t see, specifically the toxins put out by blue-green algae, which proliferate in sewerage. “When it gets stressed by chlorine or pumping, or any of these filtration processes it gives out a little molecule that is so small that no current filtration process can remove it.”
What you can do to stay safe
Professor Turton is correct about the extent of the crisis, but there is, in fact, a purifier in South Africa that can filter out blue-green algae and toxic chemicals.
“H2O International’s water purifiers are the only purifiers in the country to contain the KDF® 55 Process Medium,” says H2O International SA managing director, Tony Marchesini. “Unlike carbon, this medium is truly bacteriostatic with an electrolytic field that is hostile and deadly to blue-green algae/cyanobacteria and many other microorganisms.”
The H2O International media bed, which is made up of KDF®, Riolyte and high-grade coconut shell activated carbon is very effective at removing 99% unwanted contaminates from your drinking water, not only toxic bacteria but heavy metals, pharmaceuticals and chemicals too.
“According to a study in May of 2015 by the South African Journal of Science, South Africa has the highest known levels of blue-green algae contamination in the world and the figures are only expected to increase. The levels of toxins produced are higher in our tap water than the World Health Organisation guidelines,” says Marchesini.
“Some of us have been called alarmist in the past, but much of what we were warned about a decade ago is coming to pass. Until the water crisis in the country is solved, I will continue to use H2O International SA purifiers. With all the evidence emerging, I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t. My family is too precious for me to take a chance.”
For more information please visit www.h2o.co.za or call (021) 702 3262.
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