Johannesburg — SA IS the first country to have incentive-based regulation for municipal water treatment, to encourage accountability and transparency, a Department of Water Affairs official said yesterday.
Leonardo Manus, the department’s director of water services regulation, was speaking at a briefing yesterday hosted by the Water Research Commission.
He said officials from Canada and the UK will visit SA to study its regulation processes next year.
Mr Manus said when drinking water quality regulation was first introduced in 2005, less than 43% of municipalities monitored drinking water quality.
“Now, almost 100% monitor drinking water quality.”
He said the Blue Drop and Green Drop certification – for drinking water treatment and waste water treatment, respectively – aims to give municipalities an incentive to go beyond minimum standards for treatment and reward excellence.
This year, 38 water treatment systems gained Blue Drop certification, and 787 municipal water supply systems were assessed.
The first Blue Drop report was released last year, when only 440 municipal water systems were assessed, and 23 were awarded Blue Drop status.
“Lots of people don’t understand the Blue Drop system, because it’s something new,” Mr Manus said.
Using a classroom analogy, he said teachers did not expect all their pupils to gain distinctions. Likewise, the officials who run water treatment systems should be encouraged to improve. The Treasury now requires municipalities
Guidelines for home water treatment units are being prepared, the Water Research Commission confirmed. Jo Burgess, the commission’s research manager, said home treatment facilities could be used either as a stopgap – for rural communities for whom piped water is not yet available – or as part of an emergency response measure, where infrastructure has been destroyed by a natural disaster.
Research will also consider the efficacy of commercially available products for home water treatment, Dr Burgess said.
Treated drinking water must comply with SANS 241, a South African national standard informed by the World Health Organisation’s drinking water standards.
She said guidelines for the design and operation of water treatment plants, and for appropriate chemicals for water treatment, have been published, as well as a desalination guide for municipal engineers.