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Mysterious disease strikes Luveve, open letter from former water treatment chemist

by Manda
20 Jun 2020 at 08:49hrs | Views
Dear Sir/Madam

I write in absolute distress over the video, (below) and communications I have been receiving over social media regarding the above.

I have spent all day trying to figure out how I could help. I then Googled the story and came across your article which was even more upsetting. This not only is negligence on the part of the city fathers but adds insult to injury; why would residents be prosecuted for not reporting deaths caused by the poor sanitation of their drinking water? Who is to blame for that? It is disappointing.

In my previous career as a speciality water treatment chemist in Zimbabwe in the 90s, my colleagues and I were always in awe of Byo city council water dept for being so much more efficient, organised and truly professional in their water treatment services than the city of Harare. Hence I was so distressed to see the video of residents in my hometown begging for assistance over the fear that the municipal water they were using was causing death and undoubtedly a lot of fear and anguish.

Initially I thought, there may be a problem with the filtration process as the water appeared murky and residents complained of floating foreign objects like tissue paper. I thought maybe the alum sludge.

On further information however, I understand some residents believe there is a burst sewage pipe somewhere and my guess is if this is the case, then there could be contamination in the system if this water has some how mixed with the clean water stream.

If this is a possibility then the major pathogen the city department should be testing for in the drinking water, is the bacterium  Escherichia coli (E. coli). It is very deadly but more so to vulnerable groups such as young children, the elderly and infirm. Cholera and Salmonella are also possible but really where sewage contamination is involved,  
E. coli would be the main suspect.

In the meantime, whilst the city council investigates the aetiology of the "mystery disease" I would suggest and urge the residents to take control of their lives by firstly filtering the water using tea towels or cloths to remove the solids, then boiling the water before drinking. Boiling kills 99% of the pathogens.

I hope this helps


Manda (a former water treatment chemist)

Source - Manda
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