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As Nelson Mandela Metro is in the grip of a severe drought with water supply disruptions now commonplace, the possibility of waterborne disease outbreaks is becoming increasingly real.

Only today (28 February 2023), the Metro advised consumers to boil tap water before ingesting it because of the additional water supply it has had to introduce to ensure that the city’s taps do not run dry.

According to their latest communication, the addition of unblended ground water into the reticulation system, low dam levels and fluctuating reservoir levels means the quality of water cannot be 100% guaranteed.

Precautionary boil notice

As such, the Metro is advising consumers – which means all staff and students too - to boil tap water before drinking it.

“We are not saying there is bacteria in our water and therefore it is unsafe to drink. We are saying the water does not taste as it normally does and so as a precautionary measure, residents must boil water before consuming it,” says Metro Mayor Retief Odendaal.


  • Do not drink untreated water!
  • Boil water even if it is filtered or drink bottled water.
  • Do not use water from any appliance connected to your water line
  • Handwashing. In many cases, you can continue to use tap water and soap to wash hands during the present advisory. As with the pandemic, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, before rinsing them.

Waterborne diseases

Water diseases are transmitted by contact with water, e.g. potable water, but can be prevented by following the steps in the advisory above.

These diseases are wide-ranging, with the most common being gastroenteritis (gastro), which causes an upset stomach and diarrhoea.


The incubation period after ingesting contaminated water is generally short – between 8 and 48 hours.

Gastro has the following symptoms:  sudden onset vomiting, watery diarrhoea often accompanied by moderate fever and stomach cramps.

To treat gastro, patients should replace the water and salts that are lost with bottled water and rehydration fluids.

Contact the relevant health colleagues for support

If staff or students should experience any of the above or similar symptoms, they should contact the relevant colleagues for the necessary support:



  • Students to contact or visit any of the campus Student Health Services centres on
  • North Campus: 041 5041148
  • South Campus; 041 5042174
  • Second Avenue Campus:  041 5043762
  • Missionvale Campus: 041 504 1374

If you have any other concerns relating to water:

For more information go to NMBM website.

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057