What is eWQMS?

Emanti Management's Water Quality Management System (eWQMS) can be used to guide the tracking, reviewing and improving of water quality.

Compulsory National Standards for Quality of Potable Water

At present, two references to national standards for quality of potable water exist in South Africa. The first is the Water Services Act (Act 108 of 1997) in which clause 4 (in terms of section 9(1)(b) of Water Services Act), refers to a compulsory national standard. The regulations relating to compulsory national standards for the quality of potable water are described in Clause 5 of the "Regulations Relating to Compulsory National Standards and Measures to Conserve Water" as gazetted on 8 June 2001 (Government Gazette 22355, 2001). The second is the Strategic Framework for Water Services (RSA, 2003a), in which Clause 6.3.2 thereof makes reference to drinking-water quality. Both references are presented and discussed briefly below.

Water Services Act

The Compulsory National Standards for the Quality of Potable Water, as published in Government Gazette No 22355 of 8 June 2001, reads as follows:

Quality of potable water

5. (1) Within two years of the promulgation of these Regulations, a water services authority must include a suitable programme for sampling the quality of potable water provided to consumers in its water services development plan.

(2) The water quality sampling programme contemplated in sub regulation (1) must specify the points at which potable water provided to consumers will be sampled, the frequency of sampling and for which substances and determinants the water will be tested.

(3) A water services institution must compare the results obtained from the testing of samples with SANS 241: Specifications for Drinking Water; or the South African Water Quality Guidelines published by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.

(4) Should the comparison of the results as contemplated in sub regulation (3) indicate that the water supplied poses a health risk, the water services institution must inform the Director-General of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the head of the Provincial Department of Health and it must take steps to inform its consumers-

(a) that the quality of the water that it supplies poses a health risk;

(b) of the reasons for the health risk;

(c) of any precautions to be taken by the consumers; and

(d) of the time frame, if any, within which it may be expected that water of a safe quality will be provided.

Strategic Framework for Water Services

Clause 6.3.2 of the Strategic Framework for Water Services (RSA, 2003a) refers to the need to consider drinking-water quality as follows:

  • Potable water quality - Water supplied by water service providers that is intended to be used for drinking or domestic purposes (potable water) must be of a quality consistent with SANS 241 (Specifications for Drinking Water) as may be amended from time to time.

It is clear from the above, that the Compulsory National Standards For The Quality Of Potable Water are the more prescriptive and more demanding, and the ruling legal requirement for consideration with regards to the provision of drinking-water and the quality thereof. The commonality is the reference to the use of SANS 241 (Specifications for Drinking Water) as the guideline for drinking-water quality.

SANS 241: Specifications for Drinking Water

It is worth noting that the presently governing version of SANS 241 - Specifications for Drinking Water, differs in a not inconsiderable manner from its long standing predecessors, SABS 241-2001 and SABS 241-1984, and is more closely aligned to the philosophy first introduced by the South African Water Quality Guidelines as published by DWAF (RSA, 1998e). SANS 241, specifies various classes of water in terms of physical, microbiological and chemical quality.