Water quality assessment of improved water sources and proposed pollution mitigation interventions: the case of Budaka District -Uganda
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Pollution of improved water sources has been reported to be on the increase especially in the rural water sources in Uganda. This is evidenced by the increasing outbreaks of waterborne diseases (diarrhoeal diseases and typhoid) in rural areas despite the many improved water sources (boreholes, shallow wells and protected springs) that have been and continue to be constructed in these areas. Budaka district, the study area is one such place that has been hit by these epidemics. The fact that access to safe water is determined and monitored using access to improved water sources, developing countries have tended to put much focus and attention to constructing new water sources than ensuring the sustainability of the existing ones particularly in terms of quality. The purpose of this research, carried out in Uganda (Budaka district), was to assess the water quality of three major rural water source types (deep boreholes, springs, and shallow wells). A total of 50 water sources (30 deep boreholes, 5 shallow wells and 15 protected springs) were tested for microbiological, chemical and physical quality using a Potakit, (Wagtech scientific instruments, Thatcham, UK) in the Budaka water laboratory and a spectrophotometer, (LaMotte Company, UK) in the National Water and Sewerage Corporation laboratory – Tororo. Sanitation inspection was also done at every sampled water source. Sampling and water quality analysis was done in five months (October, 2009 to February, 2010). Results of the research indicated that improved water sources do not necessarily deliver safe water although the general quality is not as poor as portrayed by many reports. According to the results of this study, boreholes were found to be the safest source with 97% conforming to the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) while the springs and shallow wells had 73% and 60% compliance to the UNBS respectively for microbiological water quality. The chemical water quality across the three water source types was satisfactory with boreholes having 95.4% compliance while the springs and shallow wells each indicated 100% compliance to the UNBS. The general water quality for the three water source types in Budaka could be classified medium quality with respect to the water quality index results of 63, 57, and 56 for boreholes, springs and shallow wells respectively. Results indicated the main pollution factors to be lack of effective and regular operation and maintenance of the water sources particularly in terms of water source sanitation and latrines that are sunk within close proximity to the water sources. The results indicate that, poor water source sanitation is the cause of 4.5%, 67% and 70% pollution risk in boreholes, shallow wells, and springs respectively. Effective operation and maintenance through the use of a simple water safety plan for point water sources has been recommended to be a significant intervention to the improvement of rural water quality in Budaka.