Residents form water task team

The Mayco member for water and waste services, Xanthea Limberg addresses the residence of Strandfontein on the contaminated water.

Strandfontein residents are not convinced by the City’s efforts to get to the bottom of a recent incident of water contamination in the area and at a community meeting held last week, formed their own task team to address the matter (“Water passes quality test”, Plainsman, March 2).

The meeting was held by Sub-council chairman and Ward 43 councillor Elton Jansen on Thursday February 27 to give residents the opportunity to raise their concerns.

“I received a few complaints and picked a trend on the different WhatsApp groups but only 28 residents complained directly to the City,” said Mr Jansen.

Xanthea Limberg, the City’s mayoral committee member for water and waste, said water inspectors with their operations team had traced the source of the problem to the Strandfontein sports field, where they found a cross-connection of the on-site irrigation system that is used to water the field and the incoming municipal water supply system without the necessary backflow prevention valves.

Irrigation pumps were switched off, the water supply to the property was disconnected and the water meter was removed from the sports field and the source was isolated from the municipal supply system and all of this was done by 9.45am on Thursday February 20, Ms Limberg said.

They extracted samples from the water on Thursday February 20, then on Friday February 21 and lastly on Saturday February 22, with no samples indicating the presence of microbiological health determinants.

Water quality test results take 18 to 24 hours to be processed, she added.

“In terms of taking the necessary action, we will be guided by the City’s Water By-law on how to fix this and take the necessary action,” Ms Limberg said.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien said no E.coli had been found in any of the water samples taken.

“E.coli mostly relates to water that is contaminated with faecal matter and none of the samples taken during the incident at Strandfontein tested positive for E.coli. Coliforms are non pathogenic organisms that are found all over in the air, on surfaces and in water. The standards for drinking water allows up to 10 coliforms in 1ml of water, where for E.coli it should be absent in 1ml of water. The chlorine levels in the samples taken over the period also showed acceptable levels,” he said.

He added that the water meter had been removed from the field, all connections from the pump house disconnected and the pump house locked. No water is being abstracted from the culvert.

The cost involved in these operations is unknown at this stage, said Dr Badroodien.

But resident Charles Harris, was concerned about what would be done to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Strandfontein resident Claudia Herrendoerfer who is a reverend at a Rocklands church, said she had to visit the various water points to find out what was happening as rumours were rife.

Chairperson of Strandfontein Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, Mario Oostendurp said the City had been unable to answer residents’ questions.

He added that he had sent Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato an email demanding the City immediately stop its internal investigation and appoint a team of independent engineers and medical consultants, qualified to investigate the matter.

Mandy van Willingh said the task team of residents, of which she was a member, had been formed to look into having an independent investigation and a possible class action suit against the City. They require the services of experts on water, sanitation, health and lawyers who can investigate and act on their behalf.

Residents who are interested in serving on the task team are invited to join and can contact Mario Oostendurp at oostendurp@gmail.com or 060 507 0962 for details.