Newlands Spring test results

There have been some suggestions that the Newlands Spring water was not safe to drink, and an anonymous test was published showing very different results to the previous tests. Since we’re now distributing the water on behalf of our members, and all of the tests were from last year, I had the water tested again.

The test results are back and can be viewed in full here.

There are updated, stricter standards for 2011. According to these standards, Total Microbial Activity (TMA) should be less than 1000 colony-forming units (cfu) per ml. Newlands spring water measures 10. Total coliforms need to be less than 10 cfu/ml. Coliforms are bacteria that are found in soil, plants and digestive tracts of animals and humans. Newlands spring water measures 2.

Faecal coliforms are a subset of coliforms that are present specifically in the gut and faeces of warm-blooded animals, and the best indicator of whether water has been contaminated. There cannot be any detectable. E Coli are the major subset of coliforms. Unfortunately, when I had the test done, I misunderstood, and they only tested for e coli (of which they couldn’t detect any). When discussing the results with them, I realised the faecal coliform test is a different one, less specific than the e coli test, and I’ve asked them to retest for this.

I also asked the labs specifically about giardia, a parasite which some believe they have caught from the water. They do not test for this specifically, but apparently the presence of faecal coliforms and e coli is an indicator that other harmful microbes may be present, which is why they are tested for.

The water looks in great shape so far, but unfortunately I missed the one key test – I’ll update with those results when they’re available.

After speaking to Swift, they suggested there wasn’t a need for a separate test, as the results were very good and it would be very unusual to have faecal coliforms with the other results as they were.

Instead, I will do another test in a few months, so that we can be sure the water maintains its quality.

Comments ( 12 )

  1. Norman Rasmussen

    Some comment at have asked what the PH of the spring water is, can you comment on that too please. Thanks!

  2. Ian Gilfillan

    I didn't test the PH this time around, but a test performed by Soaring Free Superfoods in 2008 indicates the PH as 5.9.

  3. Roy

    Many thanks for this - we collected water as usual on Saturday am and are loving it - no relation to McD loving it ; ))

  4. Trevor Hughes

    Why not liaise with SAB? After all they use that water for their beer and I am pretty sure they test it regularly. Trev

  5. Earth

    Has anyone looked inside the PVC pipe??! It looks like the only likely place any contaminants come from. Or another issue: people who take/let out their dogs for a poo in that corner and DON'T pick it up. *insert that afrikaans phrase Caron quotes about not shitting in your drinking water* And thank springs the summer heat is going down! Ian, I was going to contact you about this anyway. I am very sensitive, to food containing bacteria (e.g. nuts, fruit juice) and many foods. I'm more likely to get sick than a child/infant I imagine and I do get sick for a few days, but only(!) everytime someone else cleans the pipe and it's all white at one end (maybe one of the tannies with handy andy?). Now I try to do the cleaning before they do, or there is an unspoken agreement that I'll do it (with Woolies earthfriendly dishwashing soap) I don't mind but I never have time and can't reach inside to clean the whole thing. No one else ever did. I don't think it's essential other than it causes build up at the bottom of glass bottles. However is there anyone else who might want to help buy a new PVC pipe? Ubuntu Water Foundation said he'd speak to someone with a stainless steel plant but that was well over a year ago. I don't work and haven't checked how much a new one is, it can't be much..

  6. Tex

    Hi I have only recently discovered the know of the spring in springs rd Newlands, as a new fairly inhabitor of the western cape... I am willing to put up a stainless steel pipe, I will ask in my network how much we can get from donations in the group towards a good quality piping solution which is also slightly more accessable... my gran would have a difficult time collecting the water herself.... hehe, so lets see how much we can raise and make the access as good as the water... and yes it's the tastiest water I've had in some time... BOOOOYA to mother nature, she knows best AND DELIVERS!!!!.

  7. Norman Rasmussen

    @Earth: check my blog post for a recent comment from Tex who's looking to put in a stainless steel pipe. I just noticed that Anthony Anderson mentions this spring in one of his videos: Grow Paradise TV #5, how awesome!

  8. Norman Rasmussen

    Woops here's a fixed link: Grow Paradise TV #5, how awesome!

  9. Tim

    SAB have opened another collection point of the spring to the public at the brewery, corner of main and letterstedt roads opposite the hotel and Newlands swimming pool

  10. Tim

    It is much more user friendly. You can drive in and collect from 0700 to 2100. 2 fountains run continuously

  11. David

    I think the new collection point is terrible: it is a dusty, dirty rough open area and the area next to the actual water collection point is muddy as the way the water drains was not thought out very well. The area will be unusable in winter.

  12. Douglas

    Hi David I am the Engineering Manager at Newlands Brewery. This collection point was a pilot project. We did experience teething problems and we have already made significant improvements. We recently had a vehicle drive over the drainage system and this resulted in the area flooding and muddy as a result of this. We changed the design to improve the runoff yesterday I interviewed about 6 people and they all agreed that it has improved. With a significant number of vehicles using the facility we realise we need to improve the vehicle pathway and this will reduce dust. I will also invite you to share any improvements or recommendations with me. Please feel free to email me directly on