Gauteng scored 98.1% for its Blue Drop certification, followed by the Western Cape with 94.2% and KwaZulu-Natal at 92.1%.
The Blue Drop and Green Drop programmes aim to recognise excellence in the management of drinking and waste water respectively.
Ekurhuleni jumped from fourth position in 2011 to take the top score this year, pushing the City of Johannesburg to second. Mogale City Local Municipality in Gauteng rounded out the top three with 98.7%.
“South Africa’s tap water still remains among the best in the world; we dare say among the few countries where you can still drink water direct from the tap,” Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewatold News24.
Molewa insisted that water in SA was still safe to drink, despite some lower scores on the Blue Drop programme.
“The towns or cities whose water is not given a Blue Drop certificate does not necessarily mean that water is unsafe to drink, for human consumption in particular.”
She acknowledged though, that where municipalities scored low, the department has pledged to work with them, particularly on management issues around water safety.
“There are a number of towns where the water compares well with set standards, but there are certain shortcomings identified with the overall risk-management aspects.”
The department analysed the 931 water systems for the 2012 programme, up from 402 in 2009 and 98 Blue Drop certificates were awarded, up from 66 in 2011.
Molewa acknowledged the improvement in Victor Khanye Local Municipality and Thembisile Local Municipality in Mpumalanga. These scored a low 18.26% and 27.77% in 2011 respectively and improved their scores to 80.07% and 78.3%.
The lowest performing municipalities are in the Eastern Cape province even though the poorest performing province is Mpumalanga at 60.9% overall.
Ikwezi and Koukamma municipalities in the Eastern Cape scored the lowest at 7.91% and 5.6%
“I wish to encourage those that have not yet reached this exceptionally high standard to continue to strive for improvement,” Molewa said.