As Day Zero creeps closer, the latest is April 12 many are stocking up on bottled water, but what are the implications of storing water?
City of Cape Town’s executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman says the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre advises that residents will need to make use of five to 25-litre plastic containers which should be stored in a cool, dry place and should remain closed and sealed.
Only clean containers should be used and residents should ensure that they do not use containers that have had chemicals stored in them.
Finally, when in doubt, boil the water first before drinking.
Water will be collected from designated water points across the city, site assessments are still underway and details will be made available in due course.
“Residents will be allowed to collect water on certain days of the week.
“This process will be closely monitored. Allowances will be made for drive-through collection points,” he says.
The Bulletin turned to the Water Shedding Western Cape Facebook group to hear how some of its 127 000 members were storing water.
Alister Raine and Louise Emere have been collecting bottled water for drinking for several months.
Justin and Leanne Hewitt fitted an impressive grey-water system in their Mowbray home and now filter their rainwater and store hundreds of bottles in the garage.
“We have many options, mostly off grid, and can survive for three months without municipal water, possibly extended to six months so, no, you will not see us in the queue,” says Mr Hewitt.
Margaret Holton comments that plastic has a lifespan and after a few months begins to leach toxins into the water.
Another user says plastic bottles must be kept in a fridge or the water becomes toxic, but Michael Perry says the water will be fine if stored in a cool, dark place.
Concern was also raised about the rate of release of toxic Bisphenol-A from the plastic into the water being directly related to the ambient temperature.
He referred to an article at undergroundhealthreporter.com about the hazards posed by Bisphenol-A (BPA) and antimony in plastic water bottles.
America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that plastic water bottles are perfectly safe, but a study published in September 2017 demonstrates how levels of BPA and antimony spike when plastic water bottles are exposed to heat.
Plastic water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate and when heated, this substance excretes BPA and antimony.
BPA is a hormone disruptor and has been linked to cancer, neurological issues, heart problems, ADHD, obesity and diabetes.
University of Florida researchers studied 16 bottled water brands by exposing them to 70ºC for four weeks and discovered that as the bottles got hotter, levels of BPA and antimony got higher.
Researchers warned against leaving plastic water bottles in cars, especially during summer. But what about plastic bottles on delivery trucks that spend hours in the sun before being delivered?
Janine Basson of the Constantia-based PET Recycling Company (PETCO) says polyethylene terephthalate (PET) forms the basis for fibres like polyester and is recognised as the rigid plastic commonly used as beverage bottles. “There’s no connection between PET plastic and BPA. PET is used worldwide to make reusable rigid containers,” says Ms Basson. She adds that current research shows that PET does not contain or leach oestrogen-like chemicals such as BPA or other endocrine disrupters.
According to the International Bottled Water Association, the US- FDA, “has determined that there is no limit to the shelf life of bottled water.” Consequently, the FDA does not require an expiration date for bottled water products and that drinking water could be kept for about a year if stored in a cool place away from sunlight.
Water Shedding Western Cape users say there is only one affordable solution to the drinking water drama: groundwater that is filtered by reverse osmosis, although distilled water is best, but most average households cannot afford a distiller.
Glenda Doller, of Constantia, says they are lucky and have enough river water on the property which they store in tanks after sterilisation.
“If that goes, we’ll collect spring water which will be stored in plastic, unfortunately. We’ll buy a stainless steel tank as there is less danger of plastic leeching into the water, otherwise we’ll collect from the tankers provided by politicians.
“Wet wipes for washing, cleaning clothes by hanging outside to freshen up… lots of positive thoughts,” says Ms Doller.
Tips for storing water from American Preppers Network:
Plastics: that are safe to store water in must be food grade safe. Look for a recycling symbol (triangle of arrows), which has within it a number between 1 and 7. Food grades are 1, 2, 4, and 5 – the best food grade containers made of
plastic are marked with a number 2, as this is High-density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. The others are PETE (#1), LDPE(#4), and polypropylene (PP/#5).
Glass: Not all glass containers are the same. Those used to store chemicals originally would not be considered food safe; glass can break and crack due to freezing, and even end up with tiny flaws which might trap contaminates.
Borosilicate glass (trademark name Pyrex) is good to store food and water as it can take temperature ranges and even has some resistance to breakage.
Stainless steel: If collecting rain run-off, store it in a stainless steel tank. They generally have a 40-year life span and cost less over the lifetime of the tank compared to other storage systems.
Preserving water: Add two drops, of non-scented chlorine bleach to every 2 litres of water, make sure it is also non-additive as well. When you need to use the water, let it stand open for 30 minutes before drinking.
Chlorine should be stored between 10ºC and 20ºC.
If the chlorine source is 6% sodium hypochlorite, replace it after three months of storage.
Calcium hypochlorite is better for storing water than using liquid bleach because of its longer shelf life.