Deadly health risk to water supplies

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 12 November 2010

The breakdown of ageing sewage treatment works and the discharge of bacteria into rivers and streams pose a deadly health risk to water supplies, the African Christian Democratic Party warns.

Collecting water form a cholera infected river

“Questions have rightly been asked as to whether municipal water is still acceptable for human consumption, particularly in rural areas,” ACDP MP Steve Swart said in a statement.

Outdated infrastructure and problems in retaining skilled staff had contributed to unacceptably high levels of pollution in many rivers and dams around the country.

He noted that a breakdown in the state of water supplies in South Africa’s northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, had caused an outbreak of cholera.

“If we do not attend to this creeping water crisis, we will face very serious public health issues arising from water-borne diseases,” Swart said.

With about 100,000 reported cases and more than 4000 deaths, Zimbabwe’s recent cholera epidemic – which started in 2008 – proved one of Africa’s most deadly in almost two decades.

Swart called on government to embark on public water awareness campaigns, similar to those addressing power shortages.

“The maintenance and refurbishment of bulk water infrastructure and supplies, as well as the widespread pollution of our rivers and dams, must be attended to urgently,” he said.

The department of water affairs was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this week, it was reported that South Africa’s largest water utility, Rand Water, blamed overloaded sewage works, together with acid mine drainage and poor water catchment management, for the rapidly deteriorating quality of the country’s raw water supplies.

According to the department of water affairs’ so-called Green Drop report, issued earlier this year, only seven percent of the country’s sewage treatment plants operate at an acceptable standard.

Source: Times Live

Patented hand-washing dispenser will reduce water-borne disease

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 19 October 2010

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed an affordable hand-washing device for poor communities to fight and prevent water-borne diseases.

Continuous use of the same water leads to contamination

The CSIR’s Ester Ngorima said in the developing world, diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections cause the death of millions of children under the age of five. Diarrhoea is estimated to kill around two to three million children annually.

Hand-washing with soap could cut these figures by half.

“Due to water scarcity, many rural and peri-urban people in South Africa face sanitation and hygiene challenges, leading to disease,” said Ngorima.

The device is easy enough to use. You need an empty 2l bottle filled with clean water. The hand-washing dispenser would then be screwed into the opening of the bottle.

“The dispenser releases enough water to enable hygienic hand-washing with soap. To get the water, place your hands under the device and it lift the plunger. When you lower your hands, the device seals itself.

“The device limits water wastage, with around 30 hand washes per 2l of water. It has a soap dish and typically hangs upside down on a bracket fastened to a wall,” said Ngorima.

While many people have tried using a bucket of water and a towel for hand-washing outside a toilet, the water evaporates from open buckets and the continuous use of the same water leads to contamination.

Unsupervised children and domestic animals tend to drink this water. Dust also gets into the exposed bucket of water. Continue reading

Water and Human Health

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 12 July 2010

“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.” Robert Frost.

This planet is mainly a mass of water and only a small portion of it is land. Despite all that only a minute share of water in the planet (2.5%) is potable. Most of the latter is locked up as ice while only one per cent is available in lakes, rivers and underground water tables for human consumption. Human body is 65-70% water. Therefore, human health and life on this planet depend on water to a very great extent. If one understands this one could easily comprehend how important it is to keep the water balance adequate to remain healthy all through one’s life.

Water makes up more than two thirds of the weight of the human body. Human brain is made up of 95% water; blood is 62% and lungs 90%. Even as little as 2% drop in body water could trigger dehydration. This is not easily made out as thirst is a rather late symptom of dehydration. Early signs include day time fatigue, fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with mathematics, difficulty in focusing on small print and the computer screen, and muscle pains.

Water is very essential for many of the body functions just as oil and petrol are needed for a car to run. Every cell function needs water. Water serves as a lubricant, it forms the base for saliva, makes up the fluids that bathe the joint capsule, controls the body temperature, regulates metabolism and helps maintain the normal healthy bowel motion. In addition, adequate water intake is essential to keep diseases at bay. Even common cold, sore throat, and ‘flu like illnesses could be prevented to a great extent with adequate hydration to keep the mucus membranes healthy to resist the onslaught of viruses. The minor illness syndromes, mentioned above, are the ones that cause the largest sick-absenteeism in the world every day causing billions of dollars loss to the industry. Continue reading

Taps in Chipinge ran dry 10 years ago

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 12 June 2010

Ambuya Marvelous Mlambo stealthily creeps out of her house to avoid waking her three little grandchildren who are at the lowest ebb of slumber.

She makes her way quietly to the neighbouring borehole armed with her two 25-litre buckets in which she intends to bring some water home. Scores of other women, young and old are already at the borehole when she arrives so she has to join the queue. The time is 12 midnight.

The weather is unruly and very cold so she is wrapped in a very heavy trench coat. The other people are just taking their turns quietly. They have an average of at least three containers each.

When her turn finally comes, it is already three o’clock in the morning. She laboriously fills her containers before making her way home and sneaking in quietly once again to avoid disturbing the sleeping toddlers. An hour later, she becomes part of the snoring that until then had only been coming from the children’s quarters.

It is not long before she is jolted awake by the noise of neighbours rushing to the borehole too. This time it is six o’clock in the morning and she has to get up and prepare something for the children before she sees them off to school.

Gogo Mlambo lives in the Gaza high-density suburb of Chipinge and this is the kind of life she has been living for the past 10 years. Their water taps ran dry leaving them depending on water from springs that are dotted along the banks of a stream that runs along the outskirts of the suburb. Continue reading