Water affairs

John Santer, Somerset West

(Retired water chemist)

(Sent to CoCT on Tuesday morning, reply awaited.)

I fully support the letters from Patrick Reavell and Jenny Patchett in your Wednesday October 25 edition, “Drought boat missed” and” Of floods and water”.

In addition to the above points raised, I recently submitted the following to the City Of Cape Town about two months ago and have not received any acknowledgement of/or answers to my email.

1) Bottled water is sold as either natural bottled water straight from the underground source, usually a natural spring, and is subject to the requirements of the SABS standard specification SANS 1657.

This water is extracted by means of natural gravity flow, which means that the aquifer maintains its natural level and does not “dry”up and therefore no wastage of water.

2)The second method of bottled water sales comprises the use of normal tap water from the City of Cape Town supply, in other words our precious drinking water.

This water is passed through a series of filters and finally through a reverse osmosis membrane which basically turns the water into distilled water,  all the chemicals having been removed.

a)This water has to comply With The SABS SANS 241 drinking water specification and therefore is quite safe to drink as is. 

b)The water is purchased from The City of Cape Town at approx R24 per 1 000 litres and sold for approx R20 per 5 litres, which if you do the maths equates to you paying R4 000 for your 1 000 litres of tap water.

This now becomes profiteering of a scarce resource on a huge scale, taking into account the hundreds, if not thousands of outlets which are currently carrying out this practice.

c) The third disturbing feature is that for every 1 000 litres of drinking water which is passed through the reverse osmosis membrane, about 600 to 1 000 litres go down the drain to waste and into the sewage system.

d) Why does the  City not take action and stop this practice immediately? After all, these  outlets could not operate without council approval.

I have been  led to believe by a municipal member that this has been on the table for about two years. So, when do we get action?

We are retired and use  5 kilolitres per month – with great difficulty – and quite frankly are sick and tired of hearing of grandiose plans which should have been put in place ten years ago  and the latest level 5 restrictions are also ambiguous in content but that is not a subject for discussion now.

Please also bear in mind that desalination of sea water is a very expensive method of providing drinking water, so be prepared to pay through the nose.