Water in South Africa
The South African Constitution states that everyone has the right to have access to sufficient water.
Our drinking water comes from two sources, surface water (rainfall and its runoff into rivers or dams), or groundwater (water that has collected in underground stores or aquifers).
The primary responsibility for the provision of safe drinking water rests with your Water Services Authority (Local or District Municipality). Water Services Authorities have a legal responsibility to:
- Monitor the quality of drinking water provided to consumers;
- Compare the results to national drinking water standards, and
- Communicate any health risks to consumers and appropriate authorities
Other important role-players responsible for safe drinking water are the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Department of Health. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is responsible for managing South Africa’s water resources for all its people, and also regulating the provision of drinking water by Water Services Authorities.
The Department of Health is responsible for coordinating incidents of water-related diseases in South Africa and also providing interventions under emergency drinking water conditions. The Environmental Health Officers within the Water Services Authorities, are responsible for empowering the community through the provision of health and hygiene education, as well as undertaking drinking water quality monitoring at the point-of-use.
National drinking water standards are set to ensure the protection of public health. The South African National Standard (SANS) 241 Drinking Water Specification is the definitive reference on acceptable limits for drinking water quality in South Africa and provides guideline levels for a range of water quality characteristics. SANS 241 limits are comparable to international drinking water quality guidelines.
If you would like more information about your drinking water quality, you can get it from:
- Your local Water Services Authority (Municipality): You can see the results from water quality testing at your Water Services Authority. Customers Services staff will explain the results of tests and also tell you what is being done to rectify failures.
- The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry: Additional information on drinking water quality sampling, analysis, assessment, treatment and management can be found in the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Department of Health and Water Research Commission guides on the Quality of Domestic Water Supplies.
- More detailed information is available in the Drinking Water Quality Framework for South Africa which is accessible from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (Water Services Regulation (012) 336 6583 / 6870 / 6871), or your Regional Department of Water Affairs and Forestry office:
- Northern Cape (053) 830 8800
- Western Cape (021) 950 7100
- Eastern Cape (043) 604 5400
- Gauteng (012) 392 1300
- North West (018) 384 3270
- Limpopo (015) 290 1200
- Mpumalanga (013) 759 7300
- Kwa-Zulu Natal (031) 336 2700
- Free State (051) 405 9000