Discoloured tap water ‘safe to drink’

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Limpho Sello

THE Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) has reassured its consumers that discoloured water coming out of some household taps is safe to drink.

WASCO Public Relations Manager Lineo Moqasa told the Lesotho Times this week some residents of Maseru, Morija, Roma and Teyateyaneng were receiving discoloured water.

She said the discolouration was a result of the presence of manganese in the water emanating from Metolong Dam which supplies water to Maseru and surrounding towns.

Despite the discolouration, Ms Moqasa stressed, the water was not dangerous as it had gone through all the treatment stages.

Manganese is a chemical often found in minerals in combination with iron and is also commonly found in water. It is an important element for human health and essential for the body’s development, metabolism, and antioxidant system.

However, excessive exposure or intake may lead to a fatal neurodegenerative disorder known as manganism, and symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. According to the World Health Organisation, 0.5 milligrams of manganese per litre should be adequate to protect public health.

But WASCO says there is nothing to worry about the water.

“The tap water is discoloured because it contains manganese that is found in Metolong Dam. The levels of manganese in the dam are not dangerous and not expected to pose any health risks to the public,” Ms Moqasa said, adding WASCO staff working at Metolong treatment plant and the dam’s contractors were currently addressing the discoloration.

“Manganese was discovered in the water during the construction of Metolong Dam. As a result, a process was initiated to treat the manganese. So the manganese levels in the water are low and do not pose any danger.”

Ms Moqasa said high levels of manganese were dangerous to health, but emphasised that consumers should not be worried. She said those with doubts about the discolouration could boil the water before using it.

“Manganese can be dangerous when it is at a certain level, but in this case, it is not dangerous in any way. It is actually nearly impossible for the manganese in Metolong Dam to reach a dangerous level,” said Ms Moqasa.

“The public can rest assured that it is not at a dangerous level. For those people who might be afraid of drinking the water, they can boil it before drinking.”

WASCO serves almost 300 000 people in various urban centres with potable water for domestic and commercial use. The company has over 80 000 customers which is 60 percent of the total urban population.

  • Additional reporting by LeNA.

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