Harvested rainwater in South Africa harbors pathogens, finds new study
Friday, February 28, 2014
According to research from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, pathogens are inhabitingharvested rainwater across the region, potentially posing a public health hazard, especially for children and immunocompromised individuals. Likewise, South Africa has been financing domestic rainwater harvesting tanks in informal low-income settlements and rural areas in five of the nation’s nine provinces.
Local sampling was conducted in the Kleinmond Housing Scheme, which was initiated by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Science and Technology. The houses, designed to be sustainable, are approximately 400 square feet, with alternative technologies such as solar panels along withrainwater tanks.
The list of predatory prokaryotes the investigators found includes Legionella (found in 73% of samples), Klebsiella(47%) Pseudomonas (19%), Yersinia (28%), Shigella (27%), and others. They also found some protozoan parasites, including Giardia (25%). Many of the pathogens are normal freshwater inhabitants, but Salmonella (6%) indicates human fecal contamination, whileYersinia are markers of fecal contamination by wild and domestic animals, according to the report.