South Africa's drinking water is among the best in the world, and the country remains among a few in the world where water can still be consumed from the tap, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, says.
Releasing the 2012 Blue Drop report during the Water Institute of Southern Africa Conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Molewa said 98 municipalities were this year awarded Blue Status, up from 66 last year. The average national Blue Status score jumped from 72.9% last year to 87.6% this year.
The scores have increased year-by-year since the first Blue Drop report was released in 2009, when municipalities notched up a national average of 51.4%.
In all, 153 of South Africa's 287 municipalities and 931 water systems were audited for this year's report.
Molewa stressed that just because a municipality was not awarded Blue Drop status, did not mean that their water remained unfit for human consumption. This is because Blue Drop certification goes beyond the quality of drinking water to include aspects such as risk management, operations and asset management of water services.
In this year's Blue Drop report, Ekurhuleni came out as the top scoring municipality - with a score of 98.95%, followed by the City of Johannesburg with 98.92% and Mogale City with 98.79%.
However, Molewa said she was concerned about the worst scoring municipality - Koukamma (5.6%) - and iKwezi (7.9%) both in the Eastern Cape, which are among 15 municipalities that have received warnings over the quality of their water.
Helgard Muller, acting Deputy Director-General of Policy and Regulation at the department, said the involvement of water boards and the private sector were key to improving the management of water services.
The top performing province is Gauteng - with a score of 98.1%, followed by the Western Cape (94.2%) and KwaZulu-Natal (92.9%), respectively. - BuaNews