Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 16, pp 9589–9603 | Cite as

Faecal pollution loads in the wastewater effluents and receiving water bodies: a potential threat to the health of Sedibeng and Soshanguve communities, South Africa

  • Giorgis Z. Teklehaimanot
  • Martie A. A. Coetzee
  • Maggy N. B. MombaEmail author
Research Article


The discharge of untreated or inadequately treated effluents has been identified among the activities responsible for the spread of a wide range of potentially infectious agents. The aim of this study was to determine whether inadequate treatment of wastewater and the faecal pollution load of effluents and receiving water bodies in Sedibeng District and Soshanguve peri-urban area of the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality could be a potential threat to the health of the surrounding communities. Variations in the counts of faecal indicator bacteria and pathogenic microorganisms and compliance of the effluents and receiving water bodies with South African and World Health Organization standards were assessed between August 2011 and May 2012 using culture-based methods and molecular techniques. The overall quality of effluents did not comply with the South African special standard of no risk for unrestricted irrigation (zero Escherichia coli/100 ml). The quality of the receiving water bodies did not comply with South African regulatory limits set for domestic purposes (zero E. coli/100 ml, <30 faecal enterococci/100 ml and <1 somatic coliphages/100 ml), for full contact recreation (<20 somatic coliphages/100 ml) and aquaculture (<10 E. coli/100 ml) and WHO standards for full and intermediate contact recreational use (<1 E. coli/100 ml and <40 faecal enterococci/100 ml, respectively). The PCR results revealed the prevalence of pathogenic microorganisms; between 0 and 60 % of samples tested positive for Salmonella Typhimurium and Shigella dysenteriae, and between 20 and 60 % of samples tested positive for Vibrio cholerae. These findings demonstrated that potential health risks might be associated with the use of the target river waters for domestic, recreational and irrigation purposes. This study calls for a prompt intervention to improve wastewater management.


Faecal pollution Water quality Wastewater effluent Pollution indicators Pathogenic bacteria Health risk 



The authors would like to thank the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Tshwane University of Technology for the funding of this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giorgis Z. Teklehaimanot
    • 1
  • Martie A. A. Coetzee
    • 1
  • Maggy N. B. Momba
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Water Care Unit, Department of Environmental, Water and Earth SciencesTUTPretoriaSouth Africa

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