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05.03.2018 | Ausgabe 6/2018

Environmental Management 6/2018

Temporal Variability of Faecal Contamination from On-Site Sanitation Systems in the Groundwater of Northern Thailand

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Management > Ausgabe 6/2018
Autoren:
C. Joon Chuah, Alan D. Ziegler

Abstract

We investigated the impacts of on-site sanitation systems to local groundwater. In this year-long study, we monitored the response of faecal contamination levels to hydroclimatological factors including rainfall and groundwater table. Concentration of faecal indicators—E. coli (ESC), Enterococcus (ENT), nitrate—in thirteen pairs of shallow and deep wells were determined every 7–14 days. All samples from shallow wells were tested positive for faecal contamination (ESC and ENT > 1 MPN/100 mL) but concentration varies. A maximum of 24,000 MPN/100 mL were recorded in some shallow wells. Water from deep wells showed lower susceptibility to contamination with only 4 and 23% of samples tested positive for ESC and ENT, respectively. Concentrations of ESC and ENT were lower too, with a maximum of 5 MPN/100 mL and 28 MPN/100 mL, respectively. Fluctuation in contamination among the wells was described by four archetypal responses to hydroclimatological forcing: (i) flushing during the onset of wet season, (ii) dilution over the course of the wet season, (iii) concentration during the dry season, and (iv) synoptic response to storms. Previous studies attempting to link the prevalence of faecal/waterborne diseases and temporal factors (e.g., dry vs wet season) have produced differing outcomes. Our study may help explain the relevant hydrological mechanisms leading to these varying observations. Presently, most communities in Thailand have access to ‘improved’ sanitation systems. However, due to the unsustainable implementation of these systems, the otherwise viable drinking-water resources in the form of the abundant local groundwater has become a genuine health hazard.

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