WaterCAN tests water in Hammanskraal – free from cholera but unsafe to drink
WaterCAN tests show no cholera in Hammanskraal but water from four taps – including a water tanker filling point – is not safe to drink
Caption: The four taps in Hammanskraal where Aquatico Laboratories collected samples to test for WaterCAN.
Images: Aquatico Laboratories
WaterCAN has found that water from three of four taps tested in Hammanskraal is not safe to drink. This includes a tap at one of the tanker filling up points.
WaterCAN has provided the City of Tshwane with these test results.
WaterCAN, an initiative of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), commissioned an independent laboratory, Aquatico Laboratories, to take, analyse and evaluate four random water samples from potable water at Hammanskraal, following the cholera outbreak in the area. The samples were taken by the laboratory on 25 May 2023 and provide an independent analysis of the bacteriological water quality.
The four samples were taken from two taps – one at the Hammanskraal community centre and one at a communal tap in ward 74 – as well as a sample from a water tanker and a water tanker filling point.
The photographs above show the four testing sites.
The key purpose of the water tests was to determine if the water is fit for domestic and potable uses based on microbiological variables.
No cholera was detected in any of the water samples.
However, the tanker filling point had high levels of total coliform concentration and three sites (the tanker filling point, the Hammanskraal community centre and Hammanskraal ward 74) recorded bacterial counts above drinking water quality standards (SANS241:2015).
The tests show that the water from the Hammanskraal Community Centre and the tanker filling point is not safe for drinking.
The water from Hammanskraal Ward 74 is considered conditionally acceptable but bacterial values should be reduced over the long term. The water from the water tanker can be considered for human consumption in the short term but free chlorine values should be reduced if consumption takes place over a longer period.
The tests shows that the water quality of the submitted samples can be classified as Poor (Class 03) at Hammanskraal Community Centre and the tanker filling point. A classification of 03 poses a risk of chronic health effects, especially in babies, children and the elderly.
So, what does all this mean? “It is clear that they have flushed the system. This means that they have increased the levels of chlorine to clean the water by killing the bacteria. This would disinfect the water to a safe level as a short-term solution but over a long period could be a health risk. The water may be free of E.coli and free of cholera, but there is still a very high number of other bacteria in the water which is a major cause for concern as it indicates either inadequate treatment before it goes into the pipes, or water is secondarily polluted after it leaves the treatment facility. Either way, it remains unsafe for consumption,” said WaterCAN’s executive manager Dr Ferrial Adam.
WaterCAN continues to build a network of citizen scientists to test water across the country. The challenges being experienced in Hammanskraal are not isolated incidents. The state of water treatment facilities and wastewater treatment plants are critical and requires urgent action.
“Water is a basic human right so someone must be held liable and accountable for the corruption and loss of lives. It cannot end here,” says Adam.
 According to the Water Research Commission Quality of Domestic Water Supplies colour classification system
A soundclip with comment by WaterCAN Executive Manager Dr Ferrial Adam is here.