A newly-completed study by the Water Research Commission (WRC), in partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), shows an encouraging high level of satisfaction among urban water users in the country.
In 2011, the WRC commissioned a survey that investigated urban South Africa’s perceptions of their drinking water quality and the variables that influence these perceptions. The response was positive: 81% of urban South Africans perceived their tap water to be safe to drink.
The objective of the latest study was two-fold. Firstly, researchers wanted to test whether perceptions of drinking water quality have changed in the past four years. Secondly, the scope of the study was broadened beyond drinking water quality to include general aspects of water services.
A total of 2 513 urban households were surveyed. Personal, at-home interviews were conducted in the preferred language of the household. The survey was undertaken prior to the advent of the latest drought conditions in the country.
Drinking water quality
With regards to drinking water quality, 88% of urban South Africans perceived their tap water to be safe to drink. This is 7% higher than in 2011, showing an encouraging upward curve. The finding concurs with international studies, which found that most people in countries with a reliable water supply perceive tap water as having a low safety risk to drink.
Consumers in the metropolitan municipalities perceive their tap water to be significantly safer to drink than consumers in the other urban municipalities. The metros with the highest consumer confidence were the City of Cape Town (98%) and eThekwini (97%).
The Blue Drop status of municipalities was found to be very low on the list of drivers of perceptions. Only 2% of people surveyed gave the Blue Drop as a reason for confidence in their drinking water quality. This can be improved with raising the profile of the Blue Drop assessment.
The top six reasons why people think water is safe to drink:
1. The water looks clean.
2. Nobody gets sick from drinking the water.
3. The water tastes good.
4. The water smells good.
5. People say the water is safe to drink.
6. The municipality cleans the water.
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For more information, see Perceptions of municipal water and sanitation services (Report No. TT 647/15). To order contact Publications at Tel: (012) 330-0340; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Visit: www.wrc.org.za to download.