Smart Water Magazine
Connecting Waterpeople

3M's big water payout: Is South Africa's industry next in line?

  • 3M's big water payout: Is South Africa's industry next in line?

Last year, 3M, a prominent multinational conglomerate, agreed to a staggering $10.3 billion settlement over claims of contaminating public water sources with "forever chemicals." This settlement is set to be distributed over a 13-year span, enabling water service providers to mitigate contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). This move followed the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishing the inaugural national drinking water standards for certain PFAS chemicals. Behind the lawsuit was a simple premise: public water systems shouldn't bear the brunt of the costs to address pollution they didn't cause.

Water Challenges in South Africa

In South Africa, substantial water contamination issues loom large. Amidst these challenges, the nation is in the process of regulating new contaminants in its potable water. The draft SANS 241 Edition 7 marks the initial step, promising to establish new standards that address a range of pollutants, including specific pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, and radioactivity.

While the advancement in regulatory requirements deserves praise, they're dwarfed by significant challenges. South Africa urgently needs to upgrade its water treatment infrastructure. Service providers, already overburdened, face serious challenges with non-revenue water, significant system losses, and the destabilizing impacts of load shedding. The cost of these essential upgrades is substantial, surpassing the current capabilities of the providers.

The Future of Water Standards

As drinking water standards evolve, they place an added burden on the county’s already overwhelmed service providers. With the continued advancement of our national water standards, should industries brace themselves for heightened responsibilities, similar to the challenges faced by 3M?

Subscribe to our newsletter

Topics of interest

The data provided will be treated by iAgua Conocimiento, SL for the purpose of sending emails with updated information and occasionally on products and / or services of interest. For this we need you to check the following box to grant your consent. Remember that at any time you can exercise your rights of access, rectification and elimination of this data. You can consult all the additional and detailed information about Data Protection.