Clean drinking water is a fundamental human right, yet it remains a significant challenge in many parts of the world, including Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. A recent study conducted by the government's Epidemiology and Disease Control Division has revealed alarming levels of faecal coliform contamination in the city's drinking water. This article explores the implications of this finding, the potential health risks, and the need for immediate action.
The Contamination Crisis
The study found that nearly a quarter of the drinking water samples collected from Kathmandu were contaminated with faecal coliform, a type of bacteria that originates from the intestines of warm-blooded animals or their faeces. The presence of these bacteria in drinking water indicates contamination with sewage, posing serious health risks to the city's residents.
The study tested water from various sources, including bottled jar water, tap water supplied by the state utility, tanker water, tube well water, water from wells, and Melamchi water. The highest contamination levels were found in jar water, which is widely used by households and offices in Kathmandu and is generally considered safe.
Health Risks and Implications
The presence of faecal coliform in drinking water is a serious public health concern. It can lead to waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis A and E. Cholera, in particular, is a highly infectious disease that causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to dehydration and potentially death if left untreated.
Last year, Kathmandu witnessed a massive cholera outbreak, with at least 70 percent of those tested positive for Vibrio cholera 01 Ogawa serotype. The recent findings of faecal coliform contamination raise concerns about a potential recurrence of such outbreaks.
The Need for Safe Drinking Water Practices
The study underscores the importance of safe drinking water practices. It found that no microbes were present in water that was filtered and boiled, and the chlorination method used for water purification was also found to be 100 percent safe. However, the widespread contamination of jar water suggests that not all brands are safe to drink without treatment.
Public health experts emphasize the need for proper purification, safe storage, and safe handling of drinking water. They also stress the importance of awareness drives to educate the public about the risks of consuming contaminated water.
The high levels of faecal coliform contamination in Kathmandu's drinking water highlight a pressing public health issue. It calls for immediate action from the government and relevant authorities to ensure the provision of safe drinking water. The findings also underscore the importance of public awareness and adherence to safe water practices. As the city grapples with this contamination crisis, it is crucial to prioritize the health and well-being of its residents by ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water.