Posted by: jon | 2006/04/11

should i be worried about cape tap water?

in the last few months have been sick 2-3 times(upset stomach) which is not normal at all - there is a lot of media hype at the moment on the quality of cape tap water at the moment - is it worth looking into a filtration system ? if so could you suggest something effective and affordable ? is it possible to get sick from something in the water?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageEnviroHealth expert

Despite all the rat-tailed maggot hype, I think it's most unlikely that it's the tap water that's causing the problem.

Drinking water in Cape Town meets South African Bureau of Standards specifications, which are also World Health Organisation standards (OK: somepeople would argue that these standards aren't stringent enough!), and is tested regularly. If you’re concerned about it, though, you can ask City of Cape Town for the results of tests on drinking water in your area.

One thing I would suggest is that as a general rule it's better to only drink water from the cold tap; sometimes nasty things can get into hot water tanks and cisterns if they're poorly maintained.

Home water treatment systems aren’t generally considered necessary if the water in your area meets specifications, unless you have a medical condition that makes you sensitive to certain substances, and your doctor has specifically advised using a device to reduce these substances in your drinking water. Installing such a device will probably make the water taste better and encourage you to drink more of it – just make sure you maintain it properly (replacing flters regularly etc), otherwise it may end up worsening water quality. Keep in mind that sometimes less reputable water filter dealers can ‘talk up’ the potential health problems of drinking water. You could also try bottled water if you find that more reassuring - though the health benefits have not been shown to warrant the expense there either.

But after saying all that, I feel I'd like to investigate the issue of water filters in greater depth; I think perhaps the time is right to do an article on this. Thanks for your questions.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: SB | 2006/04/28

Hi all concerned

I am an enviromental health practitioner in the City of Cape Town and can promise you that our drinking water quality is one of the best in the world.

Reply to SB
Posted by: Kevin | 2006/04/20

I stay in JHB, Not Cape Town, but was concerned about water quality as well. In November I had a Reverse Osmosis filtration system (which can turn astronaut's urine into pure drinking water, believe it or not) installed in my home, by Virgin Water, and have been very happy with the results. Let them come around and test your water and show you what you are actually consuming (even though we are supposed to have about the 5th best municipal water in the world) and you decide from there. Will cost a few thousand, but is well worth it. Check out their website at : (And no, I don't work for them and don't get a commission). It will give you all the peace of mind you need.

Reply to Kevin
Posted by: EnviroHealth Expert | 2006/04/20

Thanks for your input, Carl. I agree that it's important to report any 'funny water', but at the same time I do think it's true to say that CT tap water is safe to drink, and these are isolated instances.

What happened in my appartment block is that a pigeon drowned in the hot water storage tank in the attic (because the lid wasn't on properly), and maggots (cooked) came out the hot water tap! Do you have experience of cold tap water contamination?

Reply to EnviroHealth Expert
Posted by: Carl | 2006/04/20

I have been involved in sectional title administration for the last fifteen years and at least twice I've had to deal with problems at apartment buildings where drinking water were contaminated. In both instances unknown persons tampered with the storage tank of the building and the inspection hatch were not closed properly. This allowed mice and birds to fall into the tanks and contaminate it.The problem was only discovered after people got sick and reported it. So, if you live in any apartment building and your water tastes or looks funny - report it to the relant people as soon as possible.

Reply to Carl
Posted by: cape | 2006/04/12

I would also like to know. Im a varsity student in cape town and i know alot of people who have had "funny" stomachs recently. Im one of them.. its a feeling of nausea and the feeling that your stomach isnt right/not feeling well etc. Im wondering if this is due to the tap water?

Reply to cape

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