Determining drinking water safety is essential

Access to safe drinking water is a privilege not shared by many in Africa. Often, drinking water is contaminated – by damaged infrastructure and distribution systems, breakdowns at treatment facilities, rapid urbanisation and general water pollution – meaning scores of South Africans are obliged to turn to groundwater.

However, to avoid disease and ill health, it is important to ascertain whether this groundwater is fit for human consumption.

Condition monitoring specialist company, WearCheck, recently integrated its sister company – previously Set Point Water Laboratories, now WearCheck Water – into its operations, adding yet another analysis service to the company’s repertoire.

WearCheck’s extensive range of condition monitoring services also includes the scientific analysis of used oil and other fluids, asset reliability care (ARC), transformer oil testing, lubricant-enabled reliability (LER) services and advanced field services (AFS), (rope testing, technical compliance and non-destructive testing), amongst others.

Thelma Horsfield, general manager of WearCheck Water, explains that the company is ISO 17025:2017 accredited, and tests water from any source. ‘We conduct analysis on water from many sources – ranging from drinking water to factory/industrial effluent, and everything in between – to determine the presence and levels of potentially harmful substances, whether the water is used for drinking, agriculture or to be disposed of after an industrial process,’ she said.

Horsfield continues, ‘Naturally available ground and surface water are invaluable sources of water that should, when being utilised, be closely monitored. The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and National Water Act published SANS241: Drinking Water Quality, outlining the minimum requirements for safe drinking water.

WearCheck Water operates two ISO17025-accredited laboratories – one in Cape Town, the other in Johannesburg. Technicians at these laboratories conduct scientific analysis of water samples for a range of clients in different industries from across Africa.

Moses Lelaka, WearCheck’s technical water lab manager in Johannesburg, explains some of the quality systems that govern the water-testing process:

‘SANS241 sets out the minimum requirements for potable water to be considered safe for human consumption, covering physical quality, chemical components, heavy metals levels, organics and microbiology. Additional determinants for nearby pollutant influences must be added to SANS241. For instance; where there is nearby agriculture, checking for fertiliser contamination should be included.

‘However, we find that, while annual testing of SANS241 determinands is followed by water providers, monitoring programmes are often lacking. Daily, weekly, and bi-weekly monitoring, based on the number of people serviced, is often overlooked by SANS241 standards.

‘Monitoring is an invaluable tool that signals environmental changes in the water table that can quickly occur due to seasonal changes, rainfall, drought, heavy industry, agriculture, natural disasters, and so much more. Responsible monitoring signals any changes in water quality before any harm to life occurs.’

WearCheck offers water analysis services in every region in Africa where the company has a presence (RSA, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Namibia, Mozambique, and the DRC).


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