WUC violates Maun residents’ right to clean safe water - lawyer

06th July 2018
FILTHY WATER: This is the colour of Maun tap water. WUC says it’s healthy. Source:The Midweek Sun



Maun residents are complaining that their health is being compromised by Water Utilities Corporation, which feeds them unsafe water that also mess their clothes because of its unusual colours.

It is not just the unusual colour but also the alarming water bills that they receive yet they hardly ever get water on a daily basis in Maun and the surrounding areas. The residents have always shared images of the soil coloured water on different social media platforms. Sometimes the water looks dark greenish, sometimes yellowish as if it is urine while early this week they posted a picture of a bucket with brown-coloured water. 

The post opened a can of worms as the residents expressed their opinions about this situation. “Our representatives (MPs) are just mum about this deplorable condition, it is disgusting you know,” commented Alfred Gabafediwe, while others said that even the water from underground looks much better than the water that they get from taps.

Parents said they have now turned to buying water because the brownish water gives their children diarrhoea. “We have resorted to buying water not because we can afford it but because we just care about the wellbeing of our children. Imagine having to buy water on a daily basis and not all of us can afford this,” said Mandipa Siku in a telephone interview.

Some elders indicated that they get an itchy throat after drinking the water and are now forced to buy water. Raymond Molefi, a lawyer, said it is a pity that people are exposed to this life-threatening hazard, saying that people’s right to clean and safe water is being violated. He suggested that the residents should take action and engage relevant stakeholders and even have a petition.  “Maun community needs to take action against this water situation and engage relevant ministers and MPs. It is like we are tolerating the situation, so it is high time we become accountable,” he said. What pains most is that no one addresses the community regarding this yet WUC still demands payments every month.

Residents also complained of the alarming water bills saying they get ‘unbelievable’ water bills of about P1000.00 or more, which they wonder how they accumulate when they have water roughly two or three days in a week or at worst, nothing at all. 

“We only get water sometimes in the evening or at night but the water bills never go down. I once went to WUC and their explanation did not make any sense because they said they charge after we have used about 1000 litres, but we barely use that. It is really painful,” said Kealeboga Lone.

“The funny thing about this is I took a sample of a bottle of the water to Water Utilities Corporation, and they told me the water was fine. I even demonstrated through a video I had taken of sewerage water spilling into the river at Riley’s bridge. And it is even strange how there is so much water in the river but most of the times, there is nothing in taps,” added Ingrid Pretorius, one of the participants on the Maun Bulletin Board post on facebook.

Acting Corporate Communications Manager, Beauty Mokoba said that Water Utilities Corporation is “aware of the discernible colour concerns in Maun and we are working on it.”

She explained that the corporation is working jointly with the plant designer to optimise the plant processes to address elevated colour concentration. This process commenced this past Tuesday on 3rd July 2018, and will go on until mid month when both the colour and the quantity challenges are expected to be resolved.  She explained that the decline in the ability of the area treatment plant to effectively take care of the colour has been progressive as the plant appears to have been overloaded overtime since its commissioning in 2014 due to the widely fluctuating river characteristics.

“Delta water by its nature tends to be different from perennial and ephemeral rivers as the water is subject to drying up and flooding. Consequently, the water quality changes with the flooding of the river as turbidities and colour tend to be enhanced,” she explained.

She said the overloading subsequently affects some component of the plant in particular, the Actiflo Clarifier as well as the filter unit which means that the recourse at this juncture is to completely replace the filter media, which has already been procured, as well as replace the malfunctioning Actifio clarifier pump.

Mokoba cleared the misconception that this coloured water is unsafe for drinking, explaining that the colour might only be an effect of the water plant situation. “The water still undergoes rigorous disinfection processes to safeguard public health. The water is therefore safe to drink because it meets the safe water standards,” she said.

She said that regarding high bills, reasons are varied per water bill. “All bills are therefore individually investigated and resolved accordingly,” explained Mokoba, adding that the corporation therefore advises customers to visit WUC offices and have each query resolved based on its merits.

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