Faecal contamination of drinking water sources of Dhaka city during the 2004 flood in Bangladesh and use of disinfectants for water treatment


M. Sirajul Islam, Environmental Microbiology Laboratory, Laboratory Sciences Division, ICDDR, B GPO Box-128, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh. E-mail: sislam@icddrb.org


Aims:  To describe the extent of faecal pollution and point of use water treatment strategy during and after the 2004 flood in Dhaka.

Methods:  A total of 300 water samples were collected from 20 different drinking water sources in Kamalapur, Dhaka city from August 2004 to January 2005. The level of faecal contamination was estimated using measurements of faecal indicator bacteria (total coliforms, faecal coliforms and faecal streptococci) and isolation of Vibrio cholerae was carried out following standard procedures. Total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, hardness, chloride and pH were also monitored. The efficacy of four disinfectants including Halotab, Zeoline®-200, alum potash and bleaching powder were tested as point of use water treatment agents. The unacceptable level of contamination of total coliforms (TC), faecal coliforms (FC) and faecal streptococci (FS) ranged from 23·8% to 95·2%, 28·6% to 95·2% and 33·3% to 90·0%, respectively. The isolation rates of V. cholerae O1 and O139 were both 0·33%, and non-O1/non-O139 was 7·0%.

Conclusion:  Water collected during and after floods was contaminated with TC, FC, FS and V. cholerae. Although alum potash, bleaching powder, Halotab and Zeoline®-200 were all effective general disinfectants, Halotab and Zeoline®-200 were superior to bleaching powder and alum potash against FC.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  During and after floods, point of use water treatment could reduce waterborne diseases among flood-affected people.