Department of Water Affairs proposes water quality regulation amendments

The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) on Tuesday presented amendments to water quality regulations to delegates attending the third Municipal Water Quality conference in Cape Town.

DWA water quality

Speaking on behalf of the department, Kirthi Gangaram presented regulation five, which requires water services institutions to have a comprehensive drinking water quality plan in place.

The water quality plan should include a programme for regular analysis of water samples by accredited or DWA-approved laboratories. The regulation also stipulates that analysis results should be submitted to the DWA monthly and published yearly. The report should compare the results obtained for municipal water against the South African National Standard (SANS) 241 for drinking water quality specifications.

Gangaram was quick to point out that the results in the report should not only be compared to SANS 241, but also comply with the standards. Should they not comply, she said the regulation also stated how reporting to the regulatory and government bodies should be carried out and the public advised if any health risk is identified.

Speaking as the Minister of Water Affairs representative at the conference, DWA manager for water services Helgard Muller, reiterated to delegates responsible for municipal drinking water quality, the importance of communicating any potential water quality problems early.

“It is essential that you inform the affected communities when the safety of your water supply is compromised. Make this one of your key commitments as you leave this conference. It is not a weakness to reveal failure to comply. It is the right thing to do and the responsible thing to do,” Muller said.

In keeping with the theme of communication, Muller also spoke about the new Blue Drop System mobile phone application that was launched at the conference on Monday evening. The ‘My Water’ application allows users to access the water quality information of their area via cell phone which is an extension of the ‘My Water’ application already available on the DWA website.

Further, the DWA’s Solomon Makate discussed draft regulation 17, which is concerned mainly with ensuring that process controllers of water plants are properly qualified and correctly registered. He said the regulation also addresses issues of continuous professional education of process controllers and how to handle the situation of existing process controllers who are currently under qualified.

Makate said that the draft regulation has been submitted to the chief state law adviser, who has questioned some sections, which will likely have to be amended.

Most audience questions at the end of the conference session were addressed to Makate with a number of concerns being raised about the job security of under qualified process controllers, as well as the significant number of working hours required for the proposed continuous professional education programmes. Makate said, however, that as it is a draft regulation there will still be an opportunity for public comment and concerned parties should participate in that process.

Source: Engineering News (Jean McKenzie)

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