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Gaborone water may be polluted

Staff Writer
The Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) has dodged questions on the safety of supplies to the greater Gaborone area after reports of pollution emerged in the South African media.

Numerous attempts by Mmegi to get an explanation from WUC communications manager Matida Mmipi proved futile as she refused to provide answers and claimed that she sent a response two weeks back and she would not resend it. South African media has reported that Molatedi Dam, from which WUC draws its supplies, is one of the polluted water sources as per a recent study.

The study found that some of South Africa's rivers are contaminated with high concentrations of nitrates and phosphates, high salinity, fecal pollution, agricultural pesticides, acid and mine drainage.

It was also found that some rivers have high levels of chemicals, such as sulphates, chlorides and sodium while others had high phosphate levels due to wastage from poultry farms, effluent from cattle feedlots, and informal settlements without sanitation facilities along banks and feeder streams.

The report titled: "The State of

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Rivers and Dams 2010 - 2011" was presented before the South African Parliament recently. Some of the rivers that feed Molatedi Dam have been declared unsafe. The Klein Marico Poort is one such river.

The report says drinking water from these rivers can cause E-coli, cholera and typhoid infections. Eating raw vegetables or vegetables from agricultural lands irrigated with such water is risky and so is swimming in the rivers.

Polluted water is often the cause of many disease outbreaks around the world. While government has never denied nor confirmed it, there are reports that a diarrhoea outbreak that claimed over 100 lives, many of them children in 2008 resulted from contaminated water.

The Ministry of Health is yet to determine the cause and source of the current diarrhoea outbreak which has claimed 17 lives in the last two weeks.



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