Mandela University Takes Pro-active Measures to Monitor Water Quality

By Water Crisis Management Team

Nelson Mandela University is implementing a series of interventions to monitor the quality of water on its campuses, given the present water shortages across the Metro.

Apart from safeguarding the wellbeing of its staff and students, the surveillance measures will also give the institution’s biochemistry and microbiology students an opportunity to put theory into practice.

Preventative efforts

The University’s Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) Department is leading the pro-active efforts to ensure the wellbeing of staff and students during the drought period through various mitigation measures. They are working closely with Risk, Technical Services, Student Health and Occupational Health colleagues on all prevention aspects of staff and student wellness.

Testing of water, particularly potable (drinking) water, will be ongoing to prevent and manage any wellness concerns related to possible waterborne diseases.

Testing of water

This daily testing, using both chemical (immediate) and laboratory (48 to 72 hours) methods, means that the University will be able to pick up any challenges and swiftly contain the source of concern. This, for example, could mean closing off certain valves within the water system.

The testing will be conducted on both the municipal water supply in the reticulation system on our Gqeberha campuses and any fresh drinking water that is tanked in from external suppliers if, and when, this is necessary.

The Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology will also work with an accredited external laboratory in its analysis work. They undertook similar testing during the coronavirus pandemic and were able to forewarn of an increase in COVID-19 transmissions.

Checking of facilities

At the same time, the SHE Department will be increasing its checks on facilities, while the Infrastructure and Space Optimisation team has assigned teams to check on water-related equipment.

These checks will include visits to kitchens, residences and ablution facilities and all vendors.

The Technical Services colleagues, already busy with interventions to introduce alternative water sources to several campuses, are checking equipment and water systems for any leaks, vandalism or the like that could impact on the quality of water or water loss.

Training

Another intervention in ensuring that hygiene standards are maintained, is that of training. The SHE Department has been working closely with several departments, including the Cleaning and Catering departments, in this regard.

Personal hygiene

Staff and students are likewise reminded of the importance of personal hygiene. Washing and sanitising hands, especially when visiting the toilet, should never be compromised.

Information on waterborne diseases from the University’s health colleagues (symptoms and what steps to follow etc) will be shared in a subsequent Memo.  Hand sanitisers are also available at the ablution facilities.

Reporting concerns

If you have concerns about:

Water quality: SHE@mandela.ac.za

Water leaks or vandalism: water@mandela.ac.za or call ext 8000, or

Waterborne illnesses: studenthealthservices@mandela.ac.za or call 041 504 1149 or occupationalhealth@mandela.ac.za or call 041- 504 1003 and 504 2045.

Please go to the University’s water crisis website, https://sustainability.mandela.ac.za/ for all related information.

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