Panic over Maseru tap water

Panic over Maseru tap water

MASERU – PANIC hit Maseru after residents discovered bloodworms coming out of their water taps in many parts of the city.
The Water and Sewage Company (Wasco) tried to allay the public’s fears saying the bloodworms were harmless.
The water utility company advised people to strain or filter the water. It also said although it was unnecessary, people may boil their drinking water.
Wasco says the bloodworms infested the city’s water reservoirs during the Christmas holidays.

The company said it received sporadic reports of the discovery of worms from some customers’ tap water in the city during the Christmas holidays.
Some of the reports were from Old Europa and isolated cases were from other areas in Maseru.
“We established that larvae of midge fly (Chironimid), commonly known as bloodworms, were present at some of the customers’ tap water at the areas indicated,” the statement reads.

Midge flies live and breed in moist areas or in water directly. “As more complaints were received from customers in various areas within Maseru, this indicated to us that the problem is not localised,” the statement reads.

“Our investigations established that our Mpilo reservoir was the access point for the midge fly which then lays its eggs in water (eggs hatch into larvae which then customers have observed in their water),” it reads. Wasco said a number of activities including equipment testing and maintenance could have exposed the Mpilo Reservoir to unusual access by midge flies.  Wasco immediately drained and cleaned the distribution system of the affected areas, and flushed and cleaned one of the main service reservoirs at Mpilo.

“We continue to consult other water utilities that have experienced this challenge in other countries to ensure that there is no repeat and to share experiences,” the statement reads.

“Routine maintenance activities continue throughout our entire supply system to ensure we supply safe potable water. While it is not necessary, customers may boil their water.” The statement says “the water supplied by Wasco is perfectly safe for all domestic use”.

“We continue to work to eliminate this aesthetic nuisance from tap water and ensure there will be no recurrence.”
“The Chironimid larvae are harmless and if one is accidentally swallowed it would be as harmless as swallowing an ant,” it says.
“They pose no health risk.”

But the public remains sceptical. For many, bottled water is the answer and they are buying it in bulk.
Teboho Matsoso, an official at Pick ’n Pay, they have seen a spike in water sales since Wasco confirmed the problem.
“Most people are going for the 5 litre bottle,” Matsoso said.

It is the same story at the ENGEN Garage along Pioneer Road where Merchandise Administrator, Lineo Ntori, said they have seen an unprecedented demand for bottled water. A stock controller at GAME store at Maseru Mall, Vusi Duru, said right after people heard that there were bloodworms, they started purchasing water in large quantities.
He said they even ran out of Aquila brand yesterday because it is much cheaper.

’Makhotso Rakotsoane &
Senate Sekotlo

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