x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Water quality depends on tank maintenance

An engineer who lives in an Al Ain villa says he prefers buying bottled water for his family, even though a sample of his tap water showed that it is clean and fit for drinking.

Muhammad Salah collects tap water samples from his home in Al Ain that will be tested for bacteria and safety.
Muhammad Salah collects tap water samples from his home in Al Ain that will be tested for bacteria and safety.

With a background in engineering, Muhammad Salah is aware of a water fact that many people in the Emirates overlook - the quality of water coming out of your tap depends on how well the water tanks in your building are maintained.

In a country where more people rent rather than own their homes, it is wise to be cautious, warned the Palestinian father of five.

"I am renting this apartment. If I owned it, definitely I would do the maintenance for it," said Mr Salah, 44, who lives with his family in a villa in the Al Masaudi area of Al Ain.

"We use the tap water for everything except for drinking," he said. "Even for drinking, I do not have a problem to drink it. The problem to me is the maintenance of the water tank on top of the building. If there is good maintenance, I have no problems to drink it."

Mr Salah is not convinced the water tank is cleaned regularly, so he buys drinking water. There are many species of bacteria living in water and if tanks are not cleaned regularly, bacteria can build up, polluting the water.

Usually, bacteria are killed when water is boiled. Earlier this month, The National took a water sample from Mr Salah's home.

This was tested at a Dubai laboratory and its chemical content and physical composition were analysed.

The water met standards set by the World Health Organization.

The sample was also free of disease-causing bacteria, making it perfectly safe for drinking. Mr Salah was pleased that the results of the tests were good.

But, as the father of a newborn boy, he said he would still prefer to clean the water tank before drinking the tap water.

Dr Rachael McDonnell, a visiting scientist in water policy and governance at the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture in Dubai, said people must consider the water issue seriously.

"It is still not recommended to drink the water as it is stored in tanks that are rarely cleaned at the villa level," she said.

Dr McDonnell believes that the problem could be resolved if water tank cleaning was more tightly regulated, or if pipe networks were designed differently.

"In the UK, there are two pipeline systems - the one to the kitchen comes straight from the transmission pipes, whereas the one to the other taps goes via a storage tank," she said. "This means the water is of direct potable quality."

vtodorova@thenational.ae