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Bacteriological Risk Analysis of Rural Water Supply Schemes

In Western Development Region of Nepal


SHEELVA SHAKYA1*, MADHAV N. SHRESTHA2 and SUMAN K. SHAKYA3
1. School of Environmental Management and Sustainable Development (SchEMS), Kathmandu, Nepal.

2. School of Environmental Management and Sustainable Development (SchEMS), Kathmandu, Nepal.

3. Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO), Kathmandu, Nepal.

The study assessed the bacteriological risk of rural water supply schemes. The six different Districts of Western
Development Region were selected which represents all three major ecological regions of Nepal. The study
covered total 68 schemes focusing on the rural drinking water supply of Gorkha, Kaski, Lamjumg, Nawalparasi,
Syangja and Tanahu districts of Nepal. Water Samples were collected from source, reservoir tank, tap stand and
household level. The water when travels from source to distribution line, and to household, density of the Fecal
Coliform was found to increase. Total water samples collected were 497, out of which 109 were from source, 116
from reservoir tank, 136 from tap and 136 from household level. The water quality in terms of bacteriological
parameter such as Fecal Coliform showed variation of the values in the different points of water distribution. The
study revealed water supplied in rural drinking water schemes do not meet the WHO drinking water standard and
maximum population were under high risk of fecal contamination.
Keywords: Bacteriological risk analysis, Rural water supply schemes, Western Development Region of Nepal.
Introduction
Nepal is predominantly a rural country with nearly 85 percent population living in rural area. Sixty six percent of
the rural population has an access to piped water, and others are dependent on locally available water sources such
as spring, stream and tube well for drinking and household uses. The per capita water consumption in the rural
area is 45 liter as compared to 60 liter in the urban area. (ADB, 2006)

One of the major problems of the rural areas is the extremely poor health condition associated with an
environmental sanitation. Of the total consumption of water in the domestic sector, only 2% of water is used for
drinking purpose, rest 98% is used for cleaning and hygiene (ADB, 1985). There is an acute shortage of safe and
clean drinking water, hygienic sanitation and other basic health care. Some of the advantages of having water
available at village taps are saving of time ( opportunity to engage in other income generating activities especially
to women ) and its positive impact on the users on health, domestic hygiene (toilet facilities), environmental
hygiene (drainage pattern) and socio economic gain (water haulting time) (Pyakurel, 1994). A community water
supply can be of great benefit to the health and the well being of people to whom it serves, it can be, on the other
hand, cause of disease and a serious threat to the public health if the delivered water is contaminated. Recurrent
outbreaks of water borne epidemics and increasing number of patients and high infant mortality rate due to water
related diseases indicates that only supplying of drinking water is not sufficient to improve public health status
unless supplementary effort is made both on quantity as well as quality aspect of water supply and sanitation
(Sharma, 1993).

Infectious disease caused by bacteria, viruses and protozoa or by other helminthes parasites are the most common
and wide spread health risk associated with drinking water. The diseases are transmitted particularly through
human and animal excrete, particularly feaces (WHO and UNICEF, 2004). Many studies have related to very high
content of coliform bacteria in portable water in both Terai and hilly regions of Nepal. In rural area 16.7% to
33.3% and in urban area 70 to 100% water samples were found to be contaminated with coliform bacteria. Almost
all piped water supply are contaminated during rainy/summer season, and water quality is far from satisfactory.
Serious efforts are needed to reduce bacterial contamination in potable water (Sharma, 1994).

There is clear and convincing evidence that the nation faces a worsening series of local and regional water
quantity and quality problems, largely as a result of poor water allocation, wasteful use of the resource, and lack
of adequate management action. Water resources constraints and water degradation are weakening one of the
resource bases on which human society is built.

This study aims to make an evaluation of water supply schemes distributed in the rural areas, concentrated on
major issues namely; bacteriological risk analysis and association with types of sources, number of taps and
population under risk. This study draws the real situation of rural water supply schemes and identifies its strength,
weakness and gaps and makes feasible recommendation to improve the situation.
* Corresponding author: Email: sheelvashakya@gmail.com

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Materials and Methods
The study was conducted in six districts of Western Development Region of Nepal; Gorkha, Kaski, Lamjung,
Nawalparasi, Syangja and Tanahu. This region covers an area of 29398 Sq. Km and lies between 27030' and
29020' latitude, and 82049' and 85015' longitude. The total population is about 4,571,013 (CBS, 2001). The study
area covered representations from all the three major ecological regions of Nepal namely; Terai, Hill and
Mountain. The study covered a total of 68 rural drinking water supply schemes of six districts.

Tools and Technique of Data Collection


The study mainly focused on two part of the study – questionnaire survey and laboratory analysis for water
samples. Primary data used in the study was collected by using questionnaire method. A set comprising two
questionnaires were used for the study so as to gather information on the technical knowledge, attitude and
practice of the beneficiary population.

• Community Interview Questionnaire: This was used to gather information on the community
participation on operation and maintenance of the systems. Interview with focus groups such as Water
User Committee (WUC) was held to gather information on technical details of the schemes.
• Household Interview Questionnaire: This was used to assess the knowledge and attitude of the
respondents in personal, domestic and environmental health and community participation. Same
questionnaire was used for two different target groups on the basis of different living standards; one elite
and another underprivileged household.

Collection of Water Samples


Water Samples were collected from source, reservoir tank, tap and household level, to investigate the risk level in
the current rural drinking water supply schemes. Total water samples collected were 497.

Bacteriological Water Quality Analysis/ Fecal Coliform Count


The laboratory analysis of water samples was done to examine the bacteriological water quality using the
Membrane Filter Method (MFM) to detect the presence and its risk level of Fecal Coliform to human health in
study area. This technique is filtration of known volumes of diluted or undiluted water samples through 0.45-µ m-
pore Millipore filters and incubation of these filters directly on Endo medium. Colonies of Fecal Coliform were
show up with a characteristic metallic sheen and they were counted (Shakya, 1995). Risk measurement was
carried out by using WHO Risk measurement grade assigned as Bacteriological Risk Grade (BRG) that is
presented in Table 1 (WHO, 1993).
Table 1. WHO Risk measurement and Bacteriological Risk Grade
Bacteriological Risk Grade
FC Count/ 100ml Risk Grade
( BRG )
0 1 No Risk
1-10 2 Low Risk
11-100 3 High Risk
101-1,000 4 Very High Risk

Representative Bacteriological Risk Value (RBRV)


Representative Bacteriological Risk Value (RBRV) is defined as the value calculated to a district which is the
total sum of the product of total population served for a scheme and its BRG to the total population served for the
District. The calculation of this value shows the total population under different level of risk and comparison
between different Districts.
Population Served for scheme 1 × BRG1 + Population Served for scheme 2 × BRG2 + Population Served
for scheme 3 × BRG 3 + and so on …………
RBRV =
Total Population Served by schemes in a district.

Data Procession
Qualitative analysis with adequate support by quantitative information was done using a computerized database
and relevant statistical tools like Karl Pearson’s coefficient Correlation (R). Interpretations of values are done as
shown in Table 2 (Gupta and Kapoor, 2000).

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Table 2. Interpretation of R2 values
S.N R2 Value Relationship
1. 0.00 - 020 Negligible
2. 0.21 – 0.40 Low
3. 0.41 – 0.70 Substantial
4. 0.71 – 1.00 High

Results and Discussions


Assess on Bacteriological Water Quality (fecal coliform count/ 100ml) at different points of water distribution
Bacteriological water quality analysis from the six districts showed different levels of risk to human health
according to WHO standard and risk to health. Fecal Coliform count per 100 ml water samples showed variation
on the values in the four different sampling points of water distribution system. Summary of maximum and
minimum values is presented in Table 3. The trend of Fecal Coliform Count from water source to household of
six districts showed the similar trend in increased in values of Fecal Coliform from water source to household.

Table 3. The maximum and minimum values of Fecal Coliform Count / 100ml, and Summary on Total number of schemes
and water samples collected at four points of Water Distribution

Total Source Reservoir Tank Tap Household Grand


No of Num Max Min Num Max Min Num Max Min Total
District
Schem Num Max Min
es
Gorkha 10 20 120 0 17 84 0 20 138 0 20 206 61 77
Kaski 10 17 33 0 23 73 0 20 72 2 20 209 0 80
Lamjung 3 3 54 0 3 91 51 6 97 66 6 113 78 18
Nawalparasi 20 27 82 0 32 188 3 40 130 10 40 256 0 139
Syangja 9 12 35 0 13 124 0 18 123 13 18 218 8 61
Tanahu 16 30 32 0 28 181 7 32 249 0 32 498 18 122
Average 59 0 123 10 135 15 250 27
Total 68 109 116 136 136 497
*Num: Total Number of water samples collected
Max: Maximum value of fecal coliform count/100ml
Min: Minimum Value of fecal coliform count/100ml

Comparison on Representative Bacteriological Risk Value (RBRV) of six districts


Average value of all RBRVs showed the risk level increase from water source to household level in all Districts.
The average value at source was 1.95 that increase in reservoir tank to 2.7 and again in tap it become 3 and finally
in household it was maximum with 3.32 as presented in Table 4. RBRV showed that Lamjung was at highest level
of contamination at source, reservoir tank and household where as Syangja was highly contaminated at tap. The
average value of RBRV clearly shows that there was an increase in the slope of fecal coliform value from source
to household. Reason in variation in RBRV of different districts was mainly due to different level of awareness on
health and sanitation, geological setting around the drinking water scheme and community participation.

Table 4. RBRV of Drinking water from water source to household level of six Districts
District Source Reservoir Tank Tap Household
Gorkha 1.9 2.8 3 3.6
Kaski 1.8 2.4 3 3.1
Lamjung 2.4 3 3 3.7
Nawalparasi 2.1 2.6 2.9 3
Syangja 1.6 2.5 3.1 3.2
Tanahu 1.9 2.9 3 3.3
Average RBRV 1.95 2.7 3 3.32

Comparison of different Source Type with its Bacteriological Risk Grade (BRG)
There were total 68 schemes with three types of sources namely ground water, spring and stream. Out of three
types of source examined, stream was more likely to be contaminated than spring source as presented in Table 5.
More risk of contamination of stream source was due to pollution like human settlement and animal farming in
upstream, domestic and agricultural runoff, and landslide due to deforestation. The study found that the
contamination of water at source point were due to lack of protection against surface contamination, poor
drainage system, unsanitary environment at surrounding of water source, lack of protection against silt and open
defecation. In some case, nonfunctional masonry or concrete wall or spring box, unscreened intake and

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unprotected fencing around and other external factor like heavy rainfall during monsoon period were the reasons
of contamination.
Table 5. Total Number of Source Types of Drinking water and its Bacteriological Risk Grade
Bacteriological Risk Grade
Source Type
No Risk Low Risk High Risk Very High Risk Grand Total
Ground water 1 - - - 1
Spring 16 11 10 - 37
Stream 7 14 8 1 30
Grand Total 24 25 18 1 68

Examine on the total number of Taps under different Bacteriological Risk Grade (BRG)
From every scheme, water samples were collected from two tap stands, which was 10% of sampling size. The
total 136 water samples were collected from 1337 taps. The study of the number of taps with its BRG’s value
showed that 85% of total were at high risk, 8% at very high risk and 5% were at low risk as shown in Figure 1.
The risk level was more in taps as compared with source and reservoir tank. The study revealed that the increase
of fecal contamination in taps was due to leakage in main pipes and breakage or erosion in tap stands and poor
drainage system of waste water around parish like open hole collection or collection in farmland, exposure of
pipes near tap stand, unhygienic environment around parish like open defecation of animal and human, and open
solid waste disposal and poor sewage management.

Fig. 1. Comparison of total number of Taps and its Risk level in Percentage

Study on trend of Fecal Coliform from source to household


The water at source level had very few number of Fecal Coliform, but as it traveled from source to the distribution
line the concentration of fecal coliform found to be increased and value was high in the household point. The R 2
values showing relationship between Fecal Coliform counts found in sources and households are presented in8%
2%
Table 6. R2 value is highest for Lamjung district that revealed higher level of contamination at source has high
5%
degree of contamination at household. The risk was at the highest level in household which was mainly due to
lack of proper cleaning practice of water containers, poor knowledge and handling practices, lack of education
and awareness on health and sanitation, lack of technology dissemination on water treatment practices.

Table 6. Districts wise R2 Values


Districts R2
Gorkha 0.02
Kaski 0.06
Lamjung 0.99
Nawalparasi 0.20
Syangja 0.03
Tanahu 0.41

Conclusion and Recommendation


The study instigated that, level of fecal coliform presence in water supplies in the rural drinking water schemes
were mostly above the WHO standard. The average fecal coliform was found to be lowest in the source but the
level of risk was very high in household level. Roughly maximum population under study was under high risk of
fecal contamination and water was not found to be suitable for drinking purpose. This study showed the requisite
of treatment plant for drinking water supply in Lamjung and Syangja districts. The main reason of such risk was
due to lack of attention on health and hygiene. The people were more focused on quantity of water availability
than on quality aspect of drinking water and due to their hardship of lives, they have least prioritized the quality

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aspect. The health status of people and the sanitary pattern of water quality vary with different caste, status and
ethnic group.

The regular maintenance should be followed to control pollution and water availability, proper sanitation and
hygienic practices. People should be well aware on appropriate use of water, preventive measures and pace of
technology evolution. Thus, the water source even if it looks clean and clear may not be safe for drinking purpose
according to bacteriological point of view. Hence to ensure safe water, it has to conduct regular monitoring of
rural water supply from concerned local authority.
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