About 90 percent of drinking water bottling plants across the Kingdom violate the hygiene rules while their workers are untrained, according to a member of the Consumer Protection Association.
Haji Al-Nujaidy, who is also a member of Al-Ahsa Municipal Council, said a study conducted by researchers at one of the Saudi universities has revealed that 70 percent of diseases, including blood diseases, gout and rashes as well as development of kidney stones, are caused by drinking polluted water.
He urged local municipalities and health and water ministries to fix the period of use for water filters, which are not supposed to filter in excess of 20,000 liters of water. He also said water trucks should be forced to use noncorrosive pipes.
“Drivers of water trucks should carry health certificates while their tanks should undergo checks after every three months and a fitness certificate should be kept in front of the vehicle,” said Al-Nujaidy.
They should also display the plant’s emblem and phone number on the vehicle.
“All drinking water bottling plants should follow hygiene and environmental protection regulations and meet filtering, sterilization, filling and storage conditions,” said Al-Nujaidy.
All their equipment should undergo regular maintenance and the tanks should be sterilized using infrared rays every four months, he explained. The plant should have an area of not less than 1,200 square meters.
Studies have showed that 50 percent of water bottling plants do not comply with microbiological standards. “Authorities have closed 7 percent of the bottling plants and asked their owners to correct their status,” the official said. But these plants continued their operation without making any changes.
“About 24 percent of samples taken from the plants were found contaminated by E.coli bacteria while 16 percent of water sold for human use was contaminated by fecal coliform bacteria,” he said, adding that the quality of water depends on chemicals used for sterilization.
Saudi citizens have called for enforcing stringent rules and regulations on water bottling plants to ensure water quality and prevent the spread of diseases.
Abdullah Al-Mazeed, a Saudi living in the Eastern Province, told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that he has stopped dealing with water tankers after finding out water they distribute is not good for drinking. “I have contracted with a famous water company to distribute hygienic drinking water containers to my household.”
Mushabbib Al-Qahtani warned against drinking water supplied by tankers having corrosive pipes, saying that they would spread diseases among consumers.
Yousuf Al-Ghamdi has another genuine complaint. He says most of the workers in the field are not qualified to distribute water in a healthy and hygienic way.
“Many of these workers run own businesses and do not follow hygienic conditions,” he alleged.
Mohammed Al-Sufyan, director of public relations and spokesman for the Eastern Province Municipality, said licenses for running water purification and supply plants are issued by municipalities after checking the facility and its hygienic conditions.
“Desalination plants give a list of authorized distributors. These plants should inform authorities if any of these distributors have stopped dealing with them and started own business,” he said.
Municipalities insist that all workers involved in water distribution should hold valid health certificates.
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