25/01/2018 06:22 SAST | Updated 25/01/2018 06:22 SAST

City of Cape Town: Water Contamination Message Is A Hoax

The City of Cape Town maintains its water is safe to drink.

Sign warning residents of water restrictions in Cape Town, October 25, 2017.
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Sign warning residents of water restrictions in Cape Town, October 25, 2017.

A WhatsApp message claiming that the City of Cape Town's municipal water is undrinkable is fake news, the City has said. According to News24, waste and water services mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg confirmed that the water remains drinkable.

The WhatsApp message, which was also widely circulated on Twitter, read:

"Hi we just received a letter from City of Cape Town that under no circumstances are we to drink water from taps unless it is boiled as of today the water has been declared contaminated (sic)".

City spokesperson Janine Willemans told News24 that the municipal water was regularly tested and met national standards.

"Please know that the City is duty-bound to report and potential risks to public health," she reportedly said.

This is not the first time the City has had to refute claims that its water is not safe to drink.

As water levels in the City's dams dropped during 2017, the water became increasingly foul tasting, leading to concerns that it was not safe to drink. But scientists say the water remains uncontaminated despite its changing taste and smell.

According to Eyewitness News (EWN), scientist Robert Siebritz explained that with dam levels decreasing, as the City's drought escalates, the concentration of algae increases.

"While geosmin [an organic compound] is not a toxic substance, it tends to be bad-tasting," he reportedly said.

The same concerns were raised in March 2017, when the Daily Voice reported that there had been an increase in gastro in the City. But experts put this down to the annual diarrhoea season.

At the time, Limberg reportedly said this was down to the geosmin that "poses no threat to human health."