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Ensuring safe drinking water in the Western Cape

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The CSIR’s Coastal Systems Environmental Analytical Laboratory plays a pivotal role in water safety by providing essential analytical services to various levels of government, and industrial sectors. During South Africa’s lockdown, maintaining these services became a priority for keeping up stringent hygiene practices. CSIR researchers have worked throughout the lockdown to assist authorities in the Western Cape to ensure that the water that is provided to residents remains safe for drinking and use.

Contact Person

Sebastian Brown

sbrown@csir.co.za

The CSIR’s Coastal Systems Environmental Analytical Laboratory plays a pivotal role in water safety by providing essential analytical services to various levels of government, and industrial sectors. During South Africa’s lockdown, maintaining these services became a priority for keeping up stringent hygiene practices. CSIR researchers have worked throughout the lockdown to assist authorities in the Western Cape to ensure that the water that is provided to residents remains safe for drinking and use.

In May this year, laboratory staff mobilised and provided reliable drinking water quality data to the Stellenbosch and Overberg district municipalities and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in support of the management and operations of water treatment works in the province. This was preceded by a meticulously developed risk assessment identifying issues associated with working within the context of COVID-19 and a set of mitigation measures involving both special operating procedures and personal protective equipment. Stringent protocols have been implemented to ensure that laboratory staff, clients and suppliers are safe guarded against the threat of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

In addition to water testing for the DWS in order to manage the safety of treated water for human consumption, the lab provides support to specialist marine research for the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries in its monitoring of key natural water resource areas, such as the Berg- and Breede catchment areas, which, in turn, support the Western Cape agricultural and other sectors.