Con­sumer pro­tec­tion body blasts WASCO

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lim­pho Sello

THE Con­sumers Pro­tec­tion As­so­ci­a­tion (CPA) has lam­basted the Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Com­pany (WASCO) for neg­li­gence that led to some blood­worms to re­cently wrig­gle their way into the Mpilo Re­sevoir.

Re­ports of the pres­ence of the blood­worms in some parts of Maseru were brought to the at­ten­tion of WASCO dur­ing the Christ­mas hol­i­days.

In an in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times yes­ter­day, the CPA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Nkareng Let­sie said the pres­ence of the blood­worms in the wa­ter showed that the qual­ity of the wa­ter was com­pro­mised.

He said con­sumers who each month pay for safe and fit to drink wa­ter de­served to know how the wa­ter was com­pro­mised or pol­luted to un­der­stand what ex­actly they are boil­ing to kill since the blood­worms are said to be harm­less when swal­lowed.

On Mon­day this week, WASCO’S Pub­lic Re­la­tions Man­ager, Li­neo Mo­qasa con­firmed in a state­ment that sup­plies from the Mpilo Reser­voir had the lar­vae of midge fly com­monly known as blood­worms.

Ar­eas af­fected in­clude Old and New Europa, Po­lice Europa, the Cen­tral Busi­ness District, Maseru West, Mabote, Seka­ma­neng, Tsenola, Naleli and Motim­poso.

Ms Mo­qasa sus­pects that some activities in­clud­ing test­ing and main­te­nance work could have cre­ated op­por­tu­ni­ties for the blood­worms to find their way to the Mpilo reser­voir.

“The blood­worms are harm­less and if one is ac­ci­den­tally swal­lowed, it would be as harm­less as swal­low­ing an ant. They pose no health risk,” read Ms Mo­qasa’s state­ment.

De­spite in­di­ca­tions that the blood­worms are harm­less, WASCO en­cour­aged con­sumers to boil or fil­ter their wa­ter be­fore con­sump­tion.

How­ever, re­search showed that blood­worms, which are usu­ally used as fish­ing bait, thrive in pol­luted wa­ter with low oxy­gen lev­els. Wa­ter that has low dis­solved oxy­gen some­times smell bad be­cause of waste prod­ucts pro­duced by or­gan­isms that live in low oxy­gen en­vi­ron­ments. The ra­tio of the dis­solved oxy­gen con­tent to the po­ten­tial ca­pac­ity gives an in­di­ca­tor of wa­ter qual­ity.

Mr Let­sie of CPA said the cur­rent wa­ter cri­sis that has seen some ar­eas af­fected ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dis­rup­tions in sup­plies, in­clud­ing the cen­tral busi­ness district, was a shock­ing sign of in­com­pe­tence by WASCO, who are sup­posed to en­sure that all qual­ity con- trol mea­sures are taken be­fore dis­tri­bu­tion, in ac­cor­dance with the ac­cept­able global stan­dards.

“There is no way that wa­ter with blood­worms wrig­gling in it can be safe for hu­man con­sump­tion, even after boil­ing be­cause we need to un­der­stand what has trig­gered the pres­ence of the worms and en­sured their sur­vival in the wa­ter?

“This is ev­i­dence enough to show that WASCO op­er­a­tions can­not be trusted be­cause they are not do­ing what they are ex­pected to do, which crit­i­cally in­cludes con­duct­ing reg­u­lar qual­ity con­trol checks. This also tells con­sumers that WASCO has failed on its man­date. We fear that some peo­ple might have been ex­posed to some health risks, such as the ef­fects of that blood­worm in­fested wa­ter on the skin,” Mr Let­sie said.

How­ever, so far, no sick­nesses that can be con­nected to the wa­ter have been re­ported while the wa­ter com­pany has em­barked on re­me­dial ac­tions, in­clud­ing drain­ing and clean­ing of the dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem of the af­fected ar­eas, and flush­ing and clean­ing one of the main ser­vice reser­voirs at Mpilo.

The wa­ter com­pany said its lab­o­ra­tory staff were closely mon­i­tor­ing the wa­ter qual­ity and they are con­fi­dent that de­spite the blood­worms, the qual­ity stan­dards re­mained com­pli­ant with all mi­cro­bi­o­log­i­cal, chem­i­cal and phys­i­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions in line with the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) stan­dards.

“We con­tinue to work towards the elim­i­na­tion of this aes­thetic nui­sance from tap wa­ter to en­sure there will be no re­cur­rence. We are also con­sult­ing to share ex­pe­ri­ences with other wa­ter util­i­ties who have ex­pe­ri­enced this chal­lenge in other coun­tries to en­sure that there is no re­peat,” Ms Mo­qasa said in her state­ment.

CPA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Nkareng Let­sie. BLOOD­WORMS were no­ticed dur­ing the Christ­mas hol­i­days in some ar­eas of Maseru. WASCO Pub­lic Re­la­tions Man­ager Li­neo Mo­qasa.

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