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Confusion over borehole water

A Peerless Park East resident is dumbfounded after the City of Cape Town apparently told him that water from his borehole contaminates water from the City’s grid.

Despite him disconnecting grid water from his toilet, At Grobler says officials who visited his house were adamant that his borehole water is a danger to other residents.

Grobler says he only uses the borehole water to flush his toilet and water his garden.

“I had disconnected the meter water supply to my toilet and the tap in the garden. I do not see how this could contaminate grid water,” Grobler says.

Despite going from pillar to post trying to sort the issue out, Grobler remains hopeless.

“All I need is an explanation on how my borehole water is a problem,” he explains.

Grobler says he is disappointed by how this issue has been handled. “I have been making numerous calls, but the situation has not been fixed.”

Mayco member for water and waste, Xanthea Limberg, says water inspectors are in the process of inspecting all registered borehole and well-point users to ensure that alternative water use installation complies with the City’s water bylaw and guidelines.

Limberg says all boreholes and well-points must be registered with the City.

“The City must be notified of the intention to sink a borehole or well-point by completing and submitting an application form.

“A borehole or well-point sign will be issued to the applicant upon approval,” she explains.

She says borehole water may contaminate the City’s water supply through interconnections between borehole water supply and the City’s supply system as it allows untreated borehole water to flow back into the City’s system under certain conditions.

“The City is responsible for ensuring that there is no probability of backflow into its ‘grid’ and therefore when the alternative water is piped into the water installation, for instance to flush toilets, installation of a reduced pressure zone backflow preventer valve is mandatory.”

To make sure that borehole water does not contaminate drinking water, the City will perform inspections to ensure compliance with sections of the by-law relating to backflow prevention.

“Every owner of premises must ensure that any well, borehole or well-point installation relating to alternative water or any other excavation relating thereto located on their premises is adequately safeguarded from creating a health nuisance and is not filled in a way or with material that may cause an adjacent well, borehole or underground source of water to become polluted or contaminated,” Limberg says.

If found that borehole or well-point water does contaminate drinking water, the City has the right to immediately shut off the drinking water supply from the property.

“However, our water inspectors would firstly and courteously address the consumer to immediately disconnect the borehole or well-point or any other alternative water supply from drinking water supply. Only once the water installation is compliant and passes an inspection may the borehole supply be recommissioned,” she adds.

As of January 2018, the national water and sanitation department gazetted new guidelines for all borehole and well-point use.

The guidelines stated that borehole or well-point water use must be metered, and all users are required to keep records and have these available for inspection by the department.

Borehole and well-point water are also limited to an extraction of 10 000 litres per day.

“If this extraction limit is likely to be exceeded, application for permission to do so must be made with the department,” Limberg explains.

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