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Quality of Water Distribution System in a Rural Area of Puducherry, India

Ganesh Kumar, S; Roy, Gautam; Kar, Sitanshu Sekhar; Saurabh, Suman

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Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care: Jul–Dec 2012 - Volume 1 - Issue 2 - p 165-166
doi: 10.4103/2249-4863.104995
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Dear Editor,

Sanitation is an important public health issue in India as is worldwide.[1] As previously showed, bacteriological pollution of drinking water supplies caused diarrheal illness in Bholakpur, India. This was due to the infiltration of contaminated water through cross connection, leakage points, and back siphoning.[2] Despite effective treatment of drinking water, microbes can enter water utility distribution systems.[3] The major causes for water quality deterioration are interactions between the pipe wall and the water, and reactions within the bulk water itself. During the flow of water through the distribution system, it undergoes various physical, chemical and biological changes, which results in change of water quality.[4] The sources of water quality degradation during distribution increases the rate of gastrointestinal illnesses.[4] It also depends on the water flow rate, finished water quality, pipe materials and deposited materials like iron, sand and others. Studies on the conditions related to quality of water distribution systems at various sites that includes tap, pipes, basement and drainage system in the houses of rural areas are limited in India. It is important to understand the problems of water distribution system so that appropriate intervention measures can be adopted at various levels.

A cross-sectional study was conducted during June 2011 in rural field practice service area of JIPMER, Puducherry. By taking 50% as good condition of the quality of water distribution and precision at 25% level, minimum sample size required will be 64. A total of 102 houses were randomly covered and information regarding conditions of taps, basement, pipe and drainage system of house were collected using a self-structured questionnaire and classified into three grades; good, average and poor based on the quality of the system. Satisfaction related to the quality, quantity and frequency of water supplied and episodes of diarrhea in the past one month were also collected. Data was entered in SPSS version 11 and analyzed by using proportion.

Our study showed that 52–85% of the houses have average and poor water distribution system [Table 1]. Pipes are in good and average condition compared to others and all the households are reported to be satisfied with quality, quantity and frequency of water supply. A total of five episodes of diarrhea were reported from five families where all the 5 families had poor drainage and basement, 4 had poor tap connection and 3 had poor pipe quality.

Table 1:
Quality of water distribution system (n = 102)

The study highlights the basic picture of water distribution system in a rural area which is important for the present context in developing countries like India. Our study showed that majority of parts of water distribution system is average and poor in this area with frequent episodes of waterborne diseases. Contaminants from the soil surrounding drinking water distribution systems are thought to not enter the drinking water when sufficient internal pressure is maintained. Pressure transients may cause short intervals of negative pressure, and the soil near drinking water pipes often contains fecal material due to the proximity of sewage lines, so that a pressure event may cause intrusion of pathogens and thus effecting the water quality.[5] The temporal release of iron, copper and lead could be predicted with knowledge of water quality and pipe material. Residual dissipation can be described with knowledge of pipe material, diameter, quality, temperature and transit time. Control of biological nitrification and stabilization is based on residual maintenance.[6]

One of the primary duties of the healthcare providers is to look for these defects in water distribution system in the causation of waterborne diseases. Household members need to be educated on water-related health risks and adoption of technological changes in improving the water distribution system. A comprehensive, coordinated research strategy on behavioral aspects regarding human beliefs, values and decision-making process is needed to bring about the change. It is concluded that water distribution system should be improved through regular inspection and corrective measures with the political commitment, regulatory action and community participation.

1. Kumar SG, Jayarama S. Issues related to sanitation failure in India and future perspective Indian J Occup Environ Med. 2009;13:104
2. Abdul RM, Mutnuri L, Dattatreya PJ, Mohan DA. Assessment of drinking water quality using ICP-MS and microbiological methods in the Bholakpur area, Hyderabad, India Environ Monit Assess. 2012;184:1581–92
3. Marciano-Cabral F, Jamerson M, Kaneshiro ES. Free-living amoebae, Legionella and Mycobacterium in tap water supplied by a municipal drinking water utility in the USA J Water Health. 2010;8:71–82
4. Besner MC, Gauthier V, Barbeau B, Millette R, Chapleau R, Prevost M. Understanding distribution system water quality J Am Water Works Assoc. 2001;93:101–14
5. Teunis PF, Xu M, Fleming KK, Yang J, Moe CL, Lechevallier MW. Enteric virus infection risk from intrusion of sewage into a drinking water distribution network Environ Sci Technol. 2010;44:8561–6
6. Taylor JS, Dietz JD, Randall AA, Hong SK, Norris CD, Mulford LA, et al Effects of blending on distribution system water quality 2005 Orlando, Florida AWWA Research foundation and American water Works Association
© 2012 Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care | Published by Wolters Kluwer – Medknow