River water quality is an important health issue as the water is utilised for drinking, domestic and agricultural use in developing countries. This study aimed to investigate the effect water from a major city has on the water quality of the Jukskei River that daylights in Johannesburg, South Africa. The river water samples were analysed for physio-chemical properties, microbiology, antibiotic resistance of bacterial isolates, genetic markers, and potentially toxic metals. Data analysis revealed increased electrical conductivity, total dissolved solids, and turbidity since 2010. Total Coliform and Escherichia coli detected were above the South African water quality guidelines for domestic, recreational, and irrigation purposes. Additionally, sodium, zinc, nickel, lithium, and lead exceeded the guidelines in domestic, recreational, and irrigation water. Pathogenic strains of E. coli (aEPEC, EHEC, EIEC, and EAEC) were isolated from the water. Various other potentially pathogenic organisms that have been implicated as causes of gastro-intestinal, and a wide range of other diseases, were also detected and demonstrated multiple levels of resistance to antibiotics tested. The results show that the river water is a potential health threat to downstream users. These results will feed into the environmental management action plan for Water for the Future (NGO group).
Keywords: Jukskei river; chemistry; microbiology; molecular biology; water quality.