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)".
Evening @CityofCT. Just got this message on Whatsapp. Can you confirm its veracity?Hi We have 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.Thanks— Sandisa Oliphant (@SandiSebezo) January 23, 2018
Also, Cape Town water is contaminated so ayipopi— khanya mkuhlu (@khanyamkuhlu_) January 24, 2018
We have just received a letter from city of Cape Town that under no circumstances are we to drink water from taps as of today. All water even for our animals must be boiled.— Annemarie Meintjes (@AM_VISI) January 24, 2018
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."