Environmental Education Service

Environmental Education Service

What is Cholera?

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It causes watery diarrhoea and vomiting that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given.

Is the tap water safe to drink?

Yes! Umgeni Water supplies world-class potable water that complies with the required microbiological standards for lifetime consumption. Umgeni Water strongly recommends that people drink tap water.

Which water resources in KwaZulu-Natal are considered high risk?

Umgeni Water monitors E. coli in rivers and impoundments. E. coli can be used as an indicator of potential health risk for cholera infection. Click on the potential health risk map for details.

What about risks posed by effluents?

Umgeni Water operates three wastewater works (Darvill, Hammarsdale, Ixopo) which purify raw sewage before discharge back to the river. To date, cholera has not been detected on either the raw sewage or purified effluent.

What can be done to prevent cholera?

Do not drink river or dam water without treatment. Treat water by boiling for 5 minutes or adding 1 teaspoon of JIK to 20l of water. Wait 2 hours before drinking. Practice good hygiene by washing hands after using the toilet and before eating.


Water is all round us. It is in the air, in and on the ground, in everything we eat or drink, in animals, in man, in plants, just everywhere. Eighty percent of the earth’s surface is water in some form. These three forms are

1. Liquid

a. Saltwater – oceans (97 percent of all the water on earth)
b. Freshwater – lakes, streams, rivers, ponds, wells;
c. Groundwater – (1 percent of all the water on earth

2. Solid

Glaciers, icebergs, ice, snow – (2 percent of water on earth

3. Gas

Vapour in the air, clouds

Water as precipitation, exists in the same three forms:

  • Liquid
    Rain, Sleet, Drizzle
  • Solid
    Snow, Hail
  • Gas

Liquid (water) becomes solid (ice) when the temperature of the water is below freezing (O degrees Celsius). Frozen water becomes strong enough to walk or skate on because the molecules of water are now holding very tightly to one another

Water expands when it freezes. It can break bottles and pipes and cause cracks in rocks and pavements. As ice melts, molecular bonds loosen and it becomes a fluid (water).

When water is heated to boiling point (100 degrees celsius), the molecular bonds break and the water becomes a gas (steam). Steam exerts a powerful force when constricted and can be used to drive machinery