When you plan a trip to South Africa, one of your first questions may be: “Can you drink the tap water in South Africa?” Drinking unsafe water can pose a health risk for you. Here, we consider the safety of South Africa’s tap water to help you answer questions you may have about drinking tap water in South Africa.
Does South Africa Have the Cleanest Tap Water in The World?
South Africa has one of the cleanest water systems in the world, making it one of only a few countries with safe tap water. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in water-borne diseases in South Africa because of a lack of sanitation and access in rural communities. For example, one of the largest rivers in South Africa, the Vaal River, is popular with tourists. It occasionally becomes contaminated with faecal material because of a lack of sanitation supplies. When this happens, Rand Water issues a statement to warn people that contact with the river’s water can lead to severe infections.
South Africa’s water infrastructure maintenance may not always be the best. In addition, water education and sanitation supplies will go a long way to help rural communities and cities because water pollution often occurs in rural areas before flowing to urban areas.
How Clean Is South Africa’s Tap Water?
South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs and Forestry set the standards for South Africa’s tap water to fulfil their responsibility in terms of the Water Services Act. According to the department, the water standard in South Africa is comparable with those of the World Health Organisation. Most (89,4%) South African households have access to piped water. The water service authorities maintain and monitor drinking water quality by testing drinking water samples. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry rates these authorities using the Blue Drop Certification System. Rand Water (a water sanitation hub) purifies the raw water supply to remove all harmful micro-organisms and contaminants.
The tap water in South Africa is safe to drink in urban areas. In rural areas, you have to be more careful. In rural areas, the water sources may be borehole water, which needs purification before it becomes suitable for drinking.
How Can You Clean Unsafe Water to Make It Drinkable?
It is best to avoid drinking spring water or water from rivers and streams, especially where humans inhabit the area. Water-born diseases may spread when you drink contaminated water.
When you don’t have access to clean water but only unsafe water, you can boil the water for no longer than 10 minutes to disinfect the water. An alternative method is to add one teaspoon of commercial bleach to 25 litres of water. You can also add one teaspoon of chlorine granules to 200 litres of water. With both options, you must let the water stand for two hours before drinking it. Another method is the survivalist method, which involves exposing water to direct sunlight for a minimum of six hours in a clear container with a small airspace. Shake it every time you fill it, and then again every hour after filling it.
Can You Drink the Tap Water in South Africa?
Don’t walk around with unclean hands – the water in South Africa is safe for good hand hygiene and brushing your teeth when you don’t swallow the water.
When in Doubt, Buy Bottled Water
If you should drink water from a tap and think it has a strange taste, stop drinking it immediately, since drinking contaminated water has a high risk of affecting your general health. If you are concerned about the quality of water from taps, it is a good idea to buy bottles of water. You can easily buy bottled water at a supermarket or a convenience store. There are several bottled water brands in South Africa, and you can usually choose between sparkling, flavoured or still water.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Tap Water in South Africa
Here are some frequently asked questions, with answers, related to: “Can you drink tap water in South Africa?”
Interested in learning more about South Africa? Here are some other facts for you!
Which Province in South Africa Has the Cleanest Water?
Can You Drink Tap Water in Cape Town?
Yes, you can drink Cape Town’s tap water. The City of Cape Town has some of the safest tap water globally. The South African National Standards’ regulations require municipalities to monitor their water quality regularly by analysing water samples.
Which City Has the Best Water in South Africa?
Johannesburg is the city with the best water in South Africa. Joburg Water received a second Blue Drop award and the rating of having the best water in the country. Blue Drop Awards shows that the city has a high tap water quality. Cape Town and Ekurhuleni received the second and third spots in the Blue Drop awards ranking.
Which Country in Africa Has the Cleanest Water?
South Africa is one of the top six African countries with safely managed drinking water sources. In addition, a large percentage of the population has access to drinking water in South Africa.
Is Tshwane water clean?
The City of Tshwane has clean and safe water to drink as they purify water using conventional methods.
Did South Africa have a typhoid outbreak in 2022?
South Africa typically has cases of typhoid fever annually. Typhoid fever spreads through hand-to-mouth transmission from contaminated water, surfaces and food. In February 2022, South Africa recorded several cases of typhoid fever, but contaminated municipal water did not cause this.