Situation analysis of water quality in the Umtata River catchment

  • OS Fatoki
  • NYO Muyima
  • N Lujiza


The Umtata River was characterised by using standard physico-chemical and microbiological methods to assess the present water quality in the river. The results indicated high turbidity, gross microbiological and cadmium pollution. Turbidity values ranged from 0.28 NTU to 1 899 NTU highlighting the known problem of donga erosion in the catchment. Faecal coliform counts varied between 0 and 21 000 counts/100 ml while the total coliform counts ranged from 0 to 69 000 counts for all the sites sampled. The levels of cadmium varied between 0.01 mg/l and 1.0 mg/l. Nutrient levels were also high. Nitrate values ranged from 0.01mg/l to 28.0 mg/l as N while phosphate values varied between 0.02 mg/l and 5.0 mg/l as P. The high coliform counts and the nutrient values exceeding acceptable limits are indicative of pollution from domestic wastes from several informal settlements located along the riverbank. Water uses in the area were determined and were found to be mainly domestic and recreational. The gross pollution of the river exposes the local people who depend on it for their primary water source to serious health risk. Another use included livestock watering.

WaterSA Vol.27(4) 2001: 467-474

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0378-4738