Its 74 days to go before Cape Town hits #Day Zero, a day when water taps are set to run dry in South Africa’s second largest city with a population of four million. The city has been hit by drought weather condition three years in a row.
Groundwater has been widely touted as good alternative source of water. But is ground water safe to use?
A document issued by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) makes some valuable inputs.
Is it safe to drink groundwater?
Under normal circumstances, drinking water should come from treated mains water. It is not safe to use untreated groundwater to drink without testing it.
In order to know how to make groundwater safe to drink (potable) you will need a laboratory test for salts, metals, nutrients and bacteria (preferably the full SANS241). This costs about R2000.
The acidity or pH level of the water also affects what the water can be used for. When you take a sample it’s very important that your first purge (pump out) the borehole, use a sterile container and don’t touch inside the container or the lid (this can introduce bacteria).
Once you know the water quality, you can find out how to treat it and make it safe to drink under emergency conditions. In many cases, this will require very basic treatment.