Makana Municipality has denied claims that Grahamstown's water is currently substandard. This is amid mounting public concern over discoloration and a bad smell from the tap water in many households.

Across the city, residents have taken to social media to express their concern about a brown tinge to the water. Some have expressed the fear that it's not safe to drink

In a statement issued on 9 April, Makana Municipality said its water quality complies with the SANS 241 drinking water standard as required by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

“The water gets tested in the treatment plants and at various sample points throughout the Makana area,” says spokesperson, Yoliswa Ramokolo. “In all, the water complies with the legal standard for drinking water and is safe for human consumption.”

Ramokolo confirmed that, as part of the Department’s Blue Drop compliance requirements, Makana Municipality should be publishing water quality results on all its notice boards, its website, on committee agendas and in the media, every month.

Meanwhile, a swimming pool consultant, who shared his views with several pool owners and other members of the public, expressed concern at high levels of copper sulphate in swimming pool water he had tested.

He claims the chemical is at toxic levels and expressed the fear that, if this was the state of the city’s drinking water, residents were putting their health at risk. He also claims that excessive copper sulphate is causing the discoloration of the water.

In reply to these explicit questions about toxicity and discoloration, Ramokolo says no copper sulphate is used in Makana Municipality’s water treatment plants.

“Copper Sulphate is not used in any way in the treatment of water in Makana,” Ramokolo says. “Copper Sulphate can only be used in water to treat extreme cases of algal blooms. In Makana water, pre-chlorination in such instances is employed.

“Therefore the high level of Copper in some pools in Grahamstown can only be attributed to Copper based algal pool treatment chemicals. If this form of treatment is repeated, the metals just accumulate in the pools.”

Ramokolo says laboratory testing has shown that the yellow to red discoloration is as a result of high iron levels in the water, not copper or copper sulphate.

“Iron is a naturally occurring metal in some sources of water and does not pose any health hazards so long as its concentration is within the SANS 241 limit of ? 2 000 ?g/L,” Ramokolo says.

“Stains on laundry arising from iron can be treated with a combination of 15% white spirit vinegar and 5% hydrogen peroxide in water (clothes to be soaked for a few minutes) and then washed normally with laundry detergents.”

Ramokolo says the only two chemicals that are added to water in Makana are a polyamine flocculent used for clarifying water, and chlorine gas for disinfection.