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A scoping study on the environmental water groundwater and surface water) quality and management in the North-West Province, South Africa
Expanded Title:SUMMARY K5/853 (KV278/11) In the North West Province, more than 80% of the rural community depend on groundwater as the sole source of drinking water. But data on the microbial quality of groundwater, in this province, is either non-existent or limited. The River Health Survey of 2004 indicated that, although the ecological health of the water sources in this province is under threat, no bio-monitoring is taking place. Aquifers in the North West Province are exposed to pollution from mining, agricultural and other anthropogenic activities. It makes sense to generate data about the microbial quality of groundwater in this province, focussing on indicator bacteria. The objective of this study was to determine the microbial and physio-chemical quality of selected groundwater sources in the North West Province of South Africa. Sampling was according to the DWAF 2002 guidelines. Isolation and enumeration of total and faecal coliforms, faecal streptococci, staphylococci and pseudomonas were achieved by the membrane filtration technique and selective agars. Presumptive colonies were selected, purified and further tested to confirm identification. Of the 76 sites sampled, thermo-tolerant faecal coliforms were detected in 48.6%. Among these 5% were positive for E. coli. Furthermore, more than 67.1% of all the sites were positive for faecal streptococci, 47.3 for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and 93% for Staphylococcus spp. Of the latter isolates 7% were positively identified as S. aureus (opportunistic pathogen). Forty seven percent of the faecal coliform isolates showed resistance to a multitude of antibiotics, with resistance to ampicillin and amoxicillin being the most prevalent. The pH of the water was generally in the acceptable range (6.4 to 8.8). Forty three percent of sites had nitrate levels higher than 20mg/L NO3-N (some exceeding 450mg/L NO3-N). TDS levels were between 41 and 1300 mg/L. The health implication of high nitrate levels is also of great concern since it increases the potential for methaemoglobinaemia (blue-baby syndrome) in affected communities. The results obtained in this study, identified 49% of sites contaminated with faecal matter, the presence of S. aureus and P. aeruginosa, as well as high antibiotic resistance together with MAR phenotypes and very high nitrate levels, all of which indicate the need to improve the management of groundwater quality in the area. Groundwater is the basis of the socio-economics of the North West Province and requires closer monitoring. Communities remain susceptible to waterborne diseases, gastric related illness as well as potentially life-threatening methemoglobinemia in infants. Policy and research is required that should have as goals, (i) prevention of further pollution of these North-West groundwater sources and (ii)identification and remediation of presently polluted sources.
Date Published:01/11/2011
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Water Resource Management/IWRM - Planning and development
Document Keywords:Water Quality
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:KV 278/11
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0174-7
Authors:Bezuidenhout CC
Project No:K8/853
Document Size:3 360 KB
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