Joburg Water assures of quality as it upgrades lab power, equipment

10th April 2024

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Johannesburg Water on Wednesday assured residents of the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) that the drinking water it provides is of the highest possible quality.

The water utility, responsible for the supply of 1.6-billion litres of water across Gauteng, has extensive testing and quality control procedures in place, adhering to strict water compliance.

Johannesburg Water’s highly-regulated Cydna Laboratory, in Houghton, undertakes extensive daily water quality control, with the laboratory team extracting about 4 700 water samples from facilities, such as reservoirs, outlets and waterways, each month and conducting a 23-parameter test on each sample, including tests for bacteria such as Escherichia coli, or more commonly, E.coli, and other heavy metals.

Speaking during a tour of one of the laboratories that test and assess water on a daily basis, Cydna Laboratory senior manager operations support Ariel Mafejane said that the water running through Johannesburg’s water infrastructure network is clean and safe water, in line with the quality requirements of the South African National Standard, or SANS, 241 drinking water quality standards.

“The 1.6-billion litres of water is good for public health,” he assured media.

The tour was also attended by CoJ Environment and Infrastructure Services MMC Councillor Jack Sekwaila, who assured that in addition to the highest quality water, the city’s overall water supply was stable.

“Only some suburbs around the city are experiencing challenges, which are mostly localised issues impacted by the planned and unplanned maintenance that we carry out.

“We are in a much better position than we were a few weeks ago.”

Meanwhile, Cydna Laboratory support manager Amanda Nkomo explained that Cydna was established in 1931 by the city council for wastewater treatment plants to ensure water resources were clean and compliant.

Johannesburg Water’s establishment in 2001 led to further expansions in daily testing and analysis to include wastewater and potable water, besides others, across its five laboratories and two satellite laboratories.

The expansive testing includes the analysis of potable water, wastewater and treated wastewater, industrial effluent, surface water and groundwater, with the tests performed including physical determinants, organic compounds, mineral compounds, microbiological tests and trace elements.

Further, the water utility’s various laboratories, with an expansive laboratory information management system to store data and a strict and secure chain of custody, has maintained its South African National Accreditation System accreditation for 26 years.

Mafejane commented that the utility secured Gauteng’s top spot in the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Blue Drop report, achieving 98.1% in a scope that requires a minimum of 95% to be awarded the coveted Blue Drop certification.

To achieve this, the group works to identify risks across the entire network to map out what could potentially go wrong and establish scenarios, mitigate and plan effectively, as well as develop structures within the standard operating procedure.

Further, the laboratory collaborates and engages with water research institutions and three universities in Johannesburg, namely the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of South Africa.

Cydna Laboratory manager Maanda Tshivhase said that the laboratory was in the process of upgrading and updating its equipment, having just received budget approval from the City of Johannesburg.

The team is currently undertaking the tender process to procure the equipment, which is expected to cost about R12-million.

In addition to new equipment, the company has set out to build onto its premises and add alternative backup power.

“With ongoing loadshedding, the lab is also installing alternative power supply, through its sister company City Power,” said Mafejane.

Nkomo noted that it was not yet fully installed, as the group was awaiting the delivery of batteries and inverters to add to the 270 solar panels that have been installed.

While transit through the ports has been problematic, she believes the system will be installed and operating by the end of this financial year in June.

Further, she highlighted the upcoming construction of a new building on the Cydna premises comprising boardrooms and offices, as well as a data centre for Johannesburg Water.

The company is planning to issue a tender within the next two months to dispose of assets stored in the existing building that is set to be demolished.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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