Waterwise Education

Drinking water sources

The drinking water that is supplied by SWSC comes from either surface water or ground water. Surface water collects in streams, rivers and dams. Ground water is water located below the ground where it collects in pores and spaces within rocks and in underground aquifers. SWSC obtains ground water by drilling wells and pumping it to the surface where it is then treated similarly to surface water using conventional water treatment methods. SWSC operates 24 water treatment plants which are scattered across the country within our areas of operation.

Drinking water & health

Safe drinking water is a vital nutrient for human health. The presence of certain contaminants in water can lead to health issues, such as gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with deficient immune systems may be especially at risk of falling sick after drinking contaminated water. At SWSC we strive to ensure that the drinking water supplied from our systems is safe for consumption. This is done by implementing the following:
• Raw water source protection to manage incidences of contamination
• Effective treatment processes to remove undesirables substances from water
• Regular maintenance of distribution system
• Regular testing of drinking water along the distribution system to end user

SWSC uses various media to engage stakeholders and also to educate the general public on the importance of preventing source water pollution as such does not only have adverse effects on aquatic biodiversity but can also be harmful to downstream consumers who use the water bodies to draw water for domestic purposes. After water has been abstracted from the source, SWSC then treats the raw water using conventional water treatment methods with each treatment process customized for the nature of the raw water and the amount of water produced. It is worth mentioning that to improve process performance whilst also ensuring the safety of our employees and the environment, some of the treatment plants are already implementing various ISO management standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 18001.

To maintain the integrity of the treated water from SWSC’s treatment plants to the end user, SWSC regularly cleans and repairs the pipelines and reservoirs and this may account to some of the supply disruptions which consumers may experience however we strive to ensure that consumers are notified through media at least 48hrs before planned maintenance is conducted.

Tests on the quality of the water supplied to consumers are also regularly conducted by SWSC’s ISO 17025 Accredited Laboratory, which is independent of the production process. Regular tests conducted on the drinking water include Total coliforms, Escherichia coli, turbidity, pH, hardness, various anions & cations, etc.  If you are interested in knowing more about the SWSC drinking water quality in your area you can call the SWSC Toll free number (8005000) for assistance.

Drinking water quality concerns

A change in the water’s taste, colour or smell is not necessarily a health concern. An example is when water has excessive dissolved oxygen – it will appear milky and might even have a slightly different smell compared to the familiar smell of dissolved chlorine. However, at times the changes can be a sign of problems. If you do notice a change in your water supply, do contact our 24-hr Call Centre Toll free line (8005000).

Water quality emergencies

In the event SWSC realizes that there is a widespread drinking water quality problem, e.g. waterborne disease breakout, we will notify the SWSC water consumers of the risk through media (TV, radio, etc) and also advise on the appropriate mitigations that consumers can take before consuming the water, e.g. boiling the water.

Water & HIV

A question asked of water suppliers is: "Can I get Aids from water?" The answer is a categorical: "No." The HIV virus can only be transferred from one person to another through blood or other body fluids, like semen. Viruses typically transmitted through food or water are known as enteric viruses. Found in the stomach, the intestines and faeces, they are protected by a highly resistant shell that helps them survive unfavourable conditions, such as stomach acids. HIV is not an enteric virus and does not have a protective shell so is quickly inactivated by, for example sunlight, detergents and disinfectants. In fact it is not stable in environments outside the body. That is why one cannot catch the virus by drinking out of the same cup as a person living with HIV. Waterborne transmission of HIV has never been reported.

Even Hepatitis B virus, which has a much smaller infection rate than HIV, has never been known to be transmitted by water. Even rivers or other water environments that contain raw or untreated sewage pose no HIV risk. All available evidence shows that the virus should be inactivated by the time it reaches the river system. Even if the virus did survive it would be way below the minimum dose needed to infect anyone. Similarly the virus is not transmitted via toilet seats or by a plumber living with HIV who works in your home. However, for a number of other reasons, it makes good practical sense to practice good basic hygiene in the kitchen and the bathroom.                          


Save water, save money, save the environment

Water is increasingly becoming a scarce resource in Swaziland (World Bank, 1993). Due to various factors like Global warming, water is becoming an ever more precious natural resource, and more especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over recent years we have seen drier, hotter summers and less winter rainfall. We are all using much more water in our homes; on average 153 litres each per day, which is about 70% more than we did 30 years ago. The environment cannot sustain an unlimited increase in demand for water, so it is vitally important that we use the water we need carefully and don't waste it.

Below are some of the tips that water users are advised to use in order to reduce water consumption:

1. Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks. Read the house water meter before and after a 2-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter reading is not the same then there is a leak.
2. Check taps and pipes for leaks. A small drip from a worn tap washer can waste 75 litres of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of litres of water daily.
3. If you do not have a shower, the cost of installation could pay for itself in a few years from savings through metered water costs and fuel costs from heating the water. However, fast flow power showers can consume more water than a bath.
4. When you are cleaning the bathroom, turn the tap on only when you are ready to rinse down and fill a basin or bucket of water instead of rinsing out the cloth under running water.
5. There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing – you will save about 4 litres!
6. You will save masses of water by checking the temperature of your bath as it fills up. This will reduce the amount of cold water you have to add. Buying a new bathroom set? Ask how much water it takes to fill the bath and flush the toilet before making your final choice.
7. If you have an older or larger cistern, an easy way to save on water during flushes is to fill a plastic bottle or bag with water and carefully place it in the cistern. This will reduce the capacity of the cistern and ultimately the amount of water used per flushing.
8. Fit insulation to hot and cold water pipe works – a lot of water can be wasted from running taps while waiting for them to get hot. If there is a long pipe run between your hot water tank and a basin or sink, you could consider installing a separate water heater. Note that this is a direct double saving both on water and power.
9. Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for only full loads. Dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Most makers of dishwashing soap do not recommend pre-rinsing dishes, which is a big water savings.
With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added 20 litres for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers. New Energy Star rated washers use 35 – 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you're in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.
10. When washing dishes by hand, don't leave the water running for rinsing. If you have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and the other one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a pan/dish of hot water.
11. Gasping for a quick cup of tea? You will get one more quickly if you boil only as much water as you need – it will save you water, time and electricity too.
12. Instead of washing and preparing vegetables under a running tap, fill a bowl of water. Do your washing up in a bowl rather than under a running tap and use another bowl full of clean water to rinse or use both sides of a double sink.

For Your Garden and Yard

13. Use a rain water diverter and water butt to collect rain water from your roof and the water can be used for watering your vegetables or flowers instead of using tap water.
14. Keep the soil moist. A healthy soil holds moisture for longer. Mulch the surface to keep the root zone moist. Use chipped bark, black polythene, grass clippings or old carpet as mulch but not peat. Always spread the mulches when the soil is already moist. Keep the beds weed free. Weeds starve the trees and shrubs of moisture.
15. Re-circulate water in ponds and fountains. By re-circulating the water and incorporating a filter system the only extra water needed is to replace that lost by evaporation. Repair any leaks as quickly as possible to avoid wasting water.
16. Sink an empty plant pot beside each plant and fill with water. It will soak away straight to the plants' roots.
17. Water your plants at the roots. Soak the soil around the roots, especially at planting time, and avoid the heat of the day. Overhead sprinklers are wasteful, and can actually damage your plants. Choose trickle systems which can work from a water butt without mains pressure.
18. Raise your mower blades. About 2,5cm long grass stays greener longer. Too much water damages lawns, and encourages moss. Even a dry, brown lawn will recover within a few days of rain.
19. Don't run the hose while washing your car. Clean the car using a bucket of soapy water. Use the hose only for rinsing – this simple practice can save as much as 300 litres when washing a car. Use a spray nozzle when rinsing for more efficient use of water. Better yet, use a waterless car washing system.

Water Saving Tips for Industries

20. Water reuse/recycling is the use of wastewater or reclaimed water from one application such as wastewater treatment for another application such as landscape watering in accordance with applicable environmental laws in Swaziland.
21. Recycling water with a re-circulating cooling system can greatly reduce water use by using the same water to perform several cooling operations. The water savings are sufficiently substantial to result in overall cost savings to the industry.
22. Behavioral practices involve modifying water use habits to achieve more efficient use of water, thus reducing overall water consumption by an industrial/commercial facility. Changes in behavior can save water without modifying the existing equipment at a facility.

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