BACTERIAL CONTAMINATION OF DRINKING WATER AND ITS IMPACT ON PRIMARY HEALTH AT KAVARATTI ISLAND, LAKSHA DWEEP, UNION TERRITORY OF INDIAG. MADHUSOODANAN, P.P. OUSEPH AND S. SUNIL KUMAR
The inhabitants of Lakshadweep depend as the sole source of drinking water, on the thin water lens that floats on seawater under equilibrium condition. Because of dense population, highly porous coral soil, shallow nature of the aquifer, the proximity of leach pit/septic tanks to the dug wells and the mechanical mode of withdrawal, the well water is exposed to both bacterial contamination and seawater intrusion. A three year study (2000-2002) conducted on bacteriological quality of well waters at Kavaratti island showed that total coliforms broadly varied from nil to 14 x 104cfu/100 mL, enteropathogenic E. coil from nil to 40 x 102 cfu/100mL, Salmonella sp. from nil to 13x102cfu/100 mL and Shigella sp. from nil to 60x102 cfu /100 mL. Feacal .E. coil was present in 50% of the well waters during pre monsoon, 63.3% during monsoon and 46.6% during post-monsoon, when correspondingly 50, 56.6 and 66.6% contained Salmonella sp. Here the water table is at 0.5 - 4.0 m below ground level with an elevation of 0.5 m - 5.74 m a. m. s. 1 and the septic tanks/leach pits are about 2 - 2.5 m deep with an overflow provision at an average depth of 0.5- 1.0 m below the ground level, i.e., the dug wells are constructed to tap the same aquifer into which these effluents are discharged. Bacterial contamination was found to affect the primary health irrespective of seasons. The study warrants the need for setting up of sewage treatment provisions and importance of hygiene education.
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