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uThungulu District Municipality - Providing efficient testing for safer water in South African villages

Outsourcing our water safety testing to Bureau Veritas reassures our stakeholders and better enables us to protect our citizens from harm.
Eddie Reynolds
Executive Technical Director
UThungulu Municipal District


South Africa’s uThungulu District Municipality (UMD) is home to some 850,000 citizens.  Until recently many of the population, often living in small villages, had to travel significant distances to access water.  Now thanks to a new supply infrastructure, the municipality brings running water to 104,000 rural area households.  The challenge is to provide safe water.  The UMD must assure that each water point (300 locations scattered throughout 8,000 square kilometers of land) receives proper chemical treatment and remains clear of harmful bacteria.  If too much time elapses between the water sampling and testing, false-negative results can occur.  When inspectors discover real problems, informing the water service provider quickly is essential.  The UMD required partnering with an accredited third-party inspector who could surpass these challenges and assure


The uThungulu District Municipality selected Bureau Veritas to design and execute an efficient water sampling and testing program.  UMD chose Bureau Veritas for its global status and qualified, ethical inspectors well versed in international standards.  Bureau Veritas eliminated the need to transport the samples to a testing laboratory in a neighboring municipality and built one in uThungulu, thus reducing water samples’ travel time.  This increased the odds for preserving the sample quality and generating accurate results.  Bureau Veritas created daily itineraries, which enabled the samplers to cover all 300 service points each month.  It also purchased 4x4 vehicles to handle the region’s rough terrain.  Every weekday, two Bureau Veritas samplers provide on-site water testing (PH-level, chlorine, clarity) with mobile equipment.  They also retrieve samples for laboratory-based bacteriological studies and immediately place them in coolers to preserve their quality during transportation.  At the end of each day, after having covered 750 kilometers, the samplers transfer the water to the lab refrigerator.   The next morning, the Bureau Veritas chemist tests the samples.  If a problem is detected, the chemist instantly alerts the service provider by phone.  Otherwise, the chemist generates a report every other day.  Additionally, Bureau Veritas sends weekly and monthly reports to both the municipality and the water service provider. 


Transporting water samples to a local laboratory cuts the time it takes the chemist to run tests and report results by a full day, enabling the water service company to rectify sooner sometimes harmful problems, and thus reducing end-consumer exposure. Bureau Veritas’ project methodology and third-party perspective add credibility to the sampling and testing process, thus reassuring the municipality, the water service provider and the uThungulu population. Ultimately, this means that the uThungulu District Municipality can bring cleaner and safer water to its people.

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Bureau Veritas

Phone: +33 1 42 91 52 91

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>Client: uThungulu District Municipality

> Client industry: Government

> Client size:
- Territory spans 8,000 square kilometres
- Population over 850,000

> Client profile: uThungulu is one of South Africa’s 11 districts.  The uThungulu District Municipality (UMD) supports its citizens by building sustainable development throughout the territory.  Servicing 90% of uThungulu households with running water remains an essential component to the area’s economic growth.

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