E coli, coliform found in drinking water supplied in Kathmandu Valley

Water utility urges local governments to help control pig and duck farming in and around water sources
- Arjun Poudel, Kathmandu
Mar 11, 2019

E coli and coliform have been found in drinking water supplied by the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited to household taps in some areas of the Valley. Doctors say both the microbes are found in human faeces and cause diarrhoeal infection.

The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division of the Department of Health Services, which conducts quality checks of drinking water on a regular basis across the country, said it had alerted the KUKL about the presence of the deadly microbes in drinking water. “Finding these microbes in drinking water supplied to households in the dry season is alarming,” Shambhu Gyawali, chief of the surveillance and research section at the division, told the Post. “We have written a formal letter to the KUKL, updating them on the situation and urging them to ensure safe water to households.”

The KUKL, which is entrusted to supply drinking water to household taps, said it has notified its units about the findings of E coli and coliform in drinking water. Prakash Kumar Rai, deputy general manager at the KUKL, concedes that the finding raises alarm bells and urges the general public to take precautions when drinking tap water.

“We have also taken more samples of drinking water from household taps to ensure quality and safety,” Rai said. “In 2018/019 so far, we have tested over 6,000 water samples collected from the sources and household taps to take steps towards ensuring safe drinking water.”

Several factors including the condition of water supply pipes, water storage, and pollution in water sources affect the quality of water supplied to households, according to Rai. The KUKL still uses the decaying pipeline laid decades ago in core city areas. This poses the risk of contamination with sewage water. The KUKL chlorinates water to make it drinkable before supplying to households. According to KUKL, spread of human settlements and pig farming in and around the water sources contributes to the deteriorating quality of drinking water. “We have requested officials at the local level to control pig and duck farming near the water sources,” said Rai, adding that ensuring water safety is as much the local units’ responsibility as it is KUKL’s.

Meanwhile, the KUKL blames shrinking water production to the drop in supply of drinking water to household taps. The KUKL said that most of its surface water resources had dried up and production had declined to 110 million litres a day, whereas the demand is over 430 million litres. Consumers have to wait for up to 15 days to get access to drinking water for a mere half an hour.

Published: 11-03-2019 07:16

Source: The Kathmandu Post