Test, use, save and conserve water

by Dr Bharathi Prakash
Dept of Microbiology
University College
Mangalore University


Mangaluru, Jun 8: Water is a basic necessity of life. Our body has approximately 72%of water. ‘Save every precious drop of water’, ‘water is life’, ‘save water’ ‘conserve water’ are the slogans seen everywhere. Water tankers run in the city. People wait in a queue to fill water leaving all other jobs. Water become top priority in the water scarcity in the summer.

Drying water bodies, excess usage and mismanagement of water resources have completely imbalanced the water table. Increasing population demands more usage of water. There should be equal “give and take” strategy but unfortunately, we are only taking from nature and not giving any efforts to restore the water resources. Today majority of the country is facing acute water scarcity is one of the live example of it. Water has the highest utility but least value. May be in the days to come water will be valued more precious than petrol and diesel. Water scarcity slowly may lead to food shortage too. Water shortage has made cities so harsh and dry that colleges have declared holidays, hotels away from cities remain closed. This seems very strange as there were days when holidays were declared for excess rainfall.

In the water shortage scenario, city water suppliers identify new potable water resources in and around the city. Whether water is potable i.e. fit to drink or not, is the most important issue. Hence water is getting tested at various places in the city for its potability. Microbiological water test -MPN test, checks the potability of water. This MPN test (Most probable number) detects the presence of faecal coliforms. Certain kind of bacteria called coliforms which reside in our colon are discharged through faecal matter. Presence of these bacteria in the given water sample indicates that the water is contaminated by faecal matter or there is sewage water seepage near this water body. A bacterium, E.coli is the common resident of all human colon. Hence it’s presence in the drinking water is considered as the indicator of sewage contamination.MPN test comprises presumptive, confirmed and completed tests which takes 3 days to give the final report. But the presence of other microorganisms in the water can also be detected using various protocols. To check, whether water is fit for drinking or not MPN test is enough, if the colour and odour is normal. Whereas checking the other chemical parameters like PH, total hardness, Chloride, fluride etc. will give the complete details of the water quality. Generally, well water is sweet and bore well water is hard due to the salts in it.

Many people use their well water only for gardening, bathing and other activities. Only during water scarcity, well water is used for drinking purpose. If the well water is not used for several months, it may taste differently. So People do water testing with the complaint of bad odour, fishy odour, rusty taste or bubbles in the well water etc. If the faecal coliform test comes positive, water should be treated or can be used after boiling. Well Water can be treated by good quality bleaching powder or Potassium permanganate. Add it to the well, stir and allow to react for 24 hours. It is always advisory to test the water quality for microbial load before and after the water treatment. In some instances, people completely empty the well, treat with bleaching powder and then use freshly filled water for drinking purpose.

If MPN teat comes positive repeatedly even with treatment, it indicates the continuous seepage of sewage water into the water body. In such case, the nearby sewage sources need to be checked and diverted from the water source, if possible. Alternately, well should be protected and guarded to prevent seepage. Quality control departments of food, beverage and ice-cream etc. factories get their water tested regularly. Every well is recommended to be covered and get the water tested periodically. Usually pre and post monsoon water testing is done by water supplying agencies.

Water shortage is becoming common especially in summer and if proper preventive measures are not taken to conserve ground water table, we may experience the same in the summers to come. Recycling and reuse of water is the key to conserve water for future. As the remedial measures-buildings, offices, schools, colleges and apartments should install water recycling units, unnecessary wastage of water must be barred, and importance of water must be taught and implemented in schools and colleges with special emphasis. Wastage of water must be charged. Potable water should not be used for toilets. South canara receives quite a good amount of rain fall every year that need to restore by ‘rain water harvesting’. In fact, it shall be made mandatory to have a rain water harvesting unit in every house, apartment and building. It should be implemented in the rainy season. Otherwise days are not far when wars may be for water.

Every time, many concerned committees are formed to conserve and protect water bodies and they remain only on paper, lacking the fund and support. Three fourth of earth is covered by water. Most of our country is surrounded by sea water yet unfortunately sea water being salty cannot be used. It is an alarming wake up call for all of us to come up with an invention to convert salt water of sea into sweet water at a very affordable cost to a common man.

Environmental experts and economists say that any country with recurrent water shortage problems will be labelled as ‘water stressed country’. Once it happens, all the foreign grants coming to the country will gradually diminish. Subsequently, it will affect the country’s economy and overall development, drastically.

Hence, as Swami Vivekananda says, we need to arise, awake and stop not till the goal is achieved to conserve water. Each one must realise the grim of the situation and take a step forward.


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Comment on this article

  • Donald Roche, Mangaloe/Jeppu/

    Wed, Jun 08 2016

    After three times emptying the well water and treating thrice our three times test result says non potable and MPN is high. I know this is because of seepage of drainage. Here nearby we have Swagath bakery food product cottage industry who not only s#it in the toilet but also throw used oil and dalda which causes block and seepage to nearby wells.
    We brought it to the notice of MCC concerning authority but no use. They close their eyes, ears & mouth shut. Can anybody tell me what steps should I take?

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [6]

  • Gregory Peres, Balmatta, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 09 2016

    Danald , I too have gone through the same problem. I met even Mr.J.R.Lobo regarding it. He promised that he would personally come to see the well. But he didn't turn up. It is 6 months now. Sad state.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [2]

  • Lydia Lobo, Kadri

    Wed, Jun 08 2016

    Very informative article. Thank you very much, Dr. Bharathi Prakash. I hope DW keeps this article in archives so that we get to read it again and again.

    Since our abode now is reduced to 3 to 5 cents plot, we hardly find any vacant land around our houses to let the rain water seep in. As such, it runs down straight into gutters which is very unfortunate.

    Drainage system/pipelines throughout the city are a recent phenomenon. Before this, every house had a septic pit and a well. You can't maintain distance between these two because your neighbour's house too will have both these systems. Meanwhile, a water well cannot be concrete walled because it requires water stream in-flow at the same time I was told that septic pits are never concrete walled. Irony is that flow of faecal contamination into well water is permitted by none other than these very man-made systems !

    We got both samples from well water and tap water tested. To our horror, both the samples contained bacteria. Drinking water is boiled alright, what about the water we use for gargle, etc. A bit of it will certainly enter our body ?

    Despite several precautions in the past, we have reached to breathing-in contaminated air. If no adequate measures are taken, very soon we will be left with not even contaminated water !

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [4]

  • Test, use, save and conserve water, Dr Bharathi Praksh,Mangalore

    Tue, Jun 21 2016

    Everyone's concern is very genuine.Getting MPN test positive is a very common thing due to crowded housing set up.In big cities you will hardly get any water free from coliforms. We need to get accustomed to these realities slowly .
    But if this is leading to any gastro intestinal sickness repeatedly in the family, one can minimise this problem by constructing a black soil packed double wall from 3 feet bellow the bottom of the septic tank till the top, which should surround the septic tank.
    so that septic tank seepage will be minimised and will go down but not spread laterally into any nearby water body.
    This can be done for your and nearby septic tanks also.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree

  • Baji Saleem, Kaikamba

    Wed, Jun 08 2016

    Very nice article on how important water is for every one of us. Time will tell the importance of saving water for our own future! Very soon we may end up fighting for water unless we don’t consider this a serious issue.

    Few methods to save water will be:
    1. Reduce the flow (pressure) of water taps by fixing reducers
    2. Regular maintenance of leaking water taps
    3. Reduce the use of flush in the toilets
    4. Make use of the right types of washing machines & dishwashers which considerably reduces the amount of water we use while washing cloths & cutlery/crockery manually
    5. Guide & advice our children to concentrate on reducing the use of water or wasting water
    6. Do not use bath tubs while taking shower

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [4]

  • Maria, Mangalore

    Wed, Jun 08 2016

    If you Google information is available.Methods depend on place, amount of rain received area covered etc. For cities roof water harvest to recharge wells and bore wells, in villages open areas with recharge pits. Some apartments in Mangalore have already installed these system.Very simple and inexpensive methods are published in this week tharanga.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree

  • Francis, Mangalore

    Wed, Jun 08 2016

    Everybody talk about rain water harvesting. But nobody know how the harvest the rain water. Can anyone explain us how to harvest the rain water.Govt only know how to collect the tax from common people. But regarding this important issue they are not taking interest .

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [3]

  • Austin Peres, MANGALURU

    Wed, Jun 08 2016

    Very good article. Everyone should be aware of the quality of water they drink. Informative.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [2]

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