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Science and goodwill meet drought-stricken communities
2016-03-02

Description: Disinfecting tankered water  Tags: Disinfecting water

“Everyone should contribute to the delivery of clean water to every individual,” says UFS researcher.

The drought in South Africa has impacted the country in many ways. Apart from its economic and environmental implications, the drought also has social implications, leaving some communities without water.

Since 21 January 2016, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is working together with the Department of Microbial, Biochemical, and Food Biotechnology at the University of the Free State. Dr Mariana Erasmus, post-doctoral fellow in the department, was appointed to lead a project for disinfecting tankered water supplied by the DWS to communities without water in the Qwaqwa area - which falls under the Maluti-a-Phufung Local Municipality.

She is working on the project with Robbie Erasmus from BioSense Solutions and Martin Bambo from DWS. A total of 53 trucks, 91 tanks, and 420 500 litres of water was disinfected so far, using sodium hypochlorite. “This is standard practice around the world,” Dr Erasmus said.

The work done by the UFS and DWS, who is monitoring the water quality as well as the process of water delivery, is very important. Disinfecting the trucks used to deliver water to drought-stricken communities decreases the formation of biofilm inside the tanks. “The biofilm could contain harmful bacteria such as E-coli. It is important to note that this is mostly the result of secondary pollution, since the water quality from the source where it was taken from, proved to be good. Drinking water with this harmful bacteria that has not been properly managed, can lead to health issues in humans when consumed,” Dr Erasmus said.

The Department of Microbial, Biochemical, and Food Biotechnology, interacting with the DWS on several water-related issues, volunteered to get involved in the project. They strongly believe that everyone should contribute to the delivery of clean water to every individual.

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