Improvement of Drinking Water (Surface and Ground) Quality, Beneficial to Human Use

Raafat A. Mandour

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Improvement of Drinking Water (Surface and Ground) Quality, Beneficial to Human Use

Raafat A. Mandour

Toxicology Unit, Emergency Hospital, Mansoura University, Egypt


Water quality guidelines can be used to identify constituents of concern in water, to determine the levels to which the constituents of water must be treated for drinking purposes. Membrane technology for the water cycle is playing an important role in the provision of safe water supply and treatment. The aim of this paper is to improve the water quality to be valid for domestic purposes through minimizing the health risks associated with either direct or indirect use of water. The need for standards and guidelines in water quality stems from the need to protect human health. The results revealed that there were several areas polluted chemically by some heavy metals (Ni, Cd, Pb, Mn and Fe) and microbiologically by (Entamoeba Histolytica, Amoeba, Egg of Nematodes and Total count of Bacteria). We conclude and recommended that water treatment could see better membranes with both higher permeability and tighter cutoff. Removal of some chemical constituents must be done and sewage system projects are implemented in all towns and villages.

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Cite this article:

  • Mandour, Raafat A.. "Improvement of Drinking Water (Surface and Ground) Quality, Beneficial to Human Use." American Journal of Water Resources 1.2 (2013): 5-9.
  • Mandour, R. A. (2013). Improvement of Drinking Water (Surface and Ground) Quality, Beneficial to Human Use. American Journal of Water Resources, 1(2), 5-9.
  • Mandour, Raafat A.. "Improvement of Drinking Water (Surface and Ground) Quality, Beneficial to Human Use." American Journal of Water Resources 1, no. 2 (2013): 5-9.

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1. Introduction

Water supply is a worldwide issue that is becoming increasingly evident in many countries. From a socio-economic standpoint, increasing water resources by reuse can strengthen the infrastructure of a country and improve the lives of its people. We have been facing increasing problems due to the pollution of the surface and ground waters. Major water bodies receive increasing loads due to the inadequate and insufficient treatment facilities. Due to the geography and climate variations around the world, approximately 70% of the renewable water resources are unavailable for human use [14, 16]. Lack of a sufficient quantity of water suitable for irrigation and drinking can lead to food shortages and health concerns for millions. In addition, water scarcity can stifle a nation’s economy, fuel conflicts, and negatively impact the environment [2]. The global water supply is being stressed further as human population continues to grow exponentially [15]. Consequently; there is an urgent need to increase water. The standard reverse osmosis (RO) membrane is a thin film composite (TFC) and its introduction in the late 1970s was a major advance in membrane preparation resulting in greatly improved permeability and retention. Recently, there have been new developments involving thin film nano-composite (TFN) RO membranes [11].

The aim of drinking water quality management is to minimize the health risks associated with either direct or indirect use of water. The need for standards and guidelines in water quality stems from the need to protect human health.

2. Materials and Methods

All samples were manually collected in two liter polyethylene bottles for chemical analysis and in one sterile liter glass bottle for microbiological analysis using the procedure described in the standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater [1]. Forty three samples representing different types of drinking water (surface and wells). The water samples were selected according to the specific objectives of the study. Heavy metals were measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS) Buck Scientific Company, USA. The study on domestic pollution concerning mainly on assessing microbiological contamination.

2.1. Microbiological Analysis

From the public health point of view, the coliform bacilli with some of pathogenic bacteria are the most important to investigate. This is done as follows:

2.1.1. Total Count of Bacteria

Bacteriae are single-called micro-organisms, that cause disease termed pathogens. The total count of bacteria for each water sample is done by poured plate method. This must not exceed 50 cell/ml at 37°C for 24 hours or 22°C for 48 hours according to Egyptian Ministry of Health (EMH) [6].

2.1.2. Total Coliform

The term total coli form, refers to rod shaped, non-spore-forming bacteria. The coliform group bacteria are capable of producing acid and gas from lactose in a suitable culture medium using Macon key Broth at 35 to 37°C. It is customary to report results as Most Probable No (MPN). The MPN is not an exact enumeration, but a high probability estimate of a coliform count per 100ml of water. These counts are reported as MPN/100ml. The water sample must not exceed than 3 cell/100ml according to EMH [6].

Table 1. Chemical results of polluted drinking water samples by some heavy metals (mg/l)

2.1.3. Biological Analysis

Microscopic examination for living microorganisms (protozoa, bluish green algae) is made without any treatment. Few drops of water samples are put on a glass slide and examined by light Microscope using high power.

3. Results

Table 1 represents the chemical results of polluted drinking water samples by some heavy metals which exceed than the permissible limits of WHO [7] and EMH [6]. Table 2 shows the microbiological contamination in most of the studied drinking water samples.

3.1. Water Treatment

Powdered limestone is effective in removing Pb2+ ions from aqueous solutions, tap water and natural water samples. It is an inorganic sorbent which abundant in nature, low in cost and have minimal environmental impact for restoration or remediation of natural resources. The experimental results revealed that this simple sportive-flotation procedure, using limestone as a sorbent and oleic acid as a surfactant, succeeded in removing nearly 99% of Pb2+ ions from aqueous solutions at pH 7 after shaking for 5 min and at room temperature (~25°C). The sorption of lead ions onto limestone may proceed via cation exchange, precipitation of lead hydroxide and/or lead carbonate [8]. Moreover, the recommended procedure was successfully applied to some natural water samples and was nearly free from interferences of some selected foreign ions [9]. Removal of Iron and Manganese was done by passing air through drawing raw water from production wells via centrifugal pumps due to oxidation of iron and manganese ions by aeration compressor. Adjust pH by adding potassium permanganate and sodium hydroxide before reaching the cemented aeration tank. Thirty minutes is the time of collected water in cemented aeration tank. Pressure sand filters were used for retention of the resulted sediments in sedimentation tank and then chlorinated the pure water before reaching to the network, Figure 1. Treatment units must be prevailed as we suggested before, through the polluted areas by iron and manganese, not only in one place like samples numbered 17 and 18 in Table 1. It is noted that the water treatment of both wells No 17and 18; Mit-Ghamr district has improved the contents of Fe and Mn in drinking water, by decreasing its values distinctly from 0. 49 and 0. 45ppm to 0.001 and 0.003ppm respectively.

Figure 1. Iron, manganese removal plant

4. Discussions

Table 1 shows the values of detected heavy metals such as Cd, Ni, Pb, Mn and Fe in some of the studied samples, higher than the permissible limits of WHO and EMH [6]. This might be due to discharge domestic wastewater of many villages which lies on the two sides of the two branches of Nile. Also, these two branches receive through distributaries canals, the agricultural wastes such as pesticides, fertilizers and other residues. Table 2 shows the polluted drinking water samples by micro-organisms (bacteria, coliform, bluish green algae and protozoa) exceed than the permissible limits of EMH . The risks from chemical pollution of water are on a small scale compared with the hazards from microbial contamination of drinking water. Among 20 to 30 different infective diseases may be affected by change in water supply. Many of this water related diseases depend on faeces access to domestic water sources. The chain transmission may be broken by safe disposal of faeces as well as by protection of the water supplies. It is important to mention that bacteria may survive for more than six months in proper subsurface environment [7]. Most of the area of study has no sewage system. Many people use septic tanks without any cautions for preventing the water from contamination. Also, disposal sites and open drains in which the wastes usually disposed are present extensively in the area. According to WHO [17] and EMH [6] standard limits for drinking, the drinking water must not contain any bacteria. The differentiation of the microbial load might be attributed to the volume, the type and the source of pollution of the water sources. Thus, the drinking water must be treated a giants microbiological pollution before its distribution to consumers. Also, it is very important to prevent different sources of microorganisms to reach drinking water. Sewage system projects are implemented in all towns and villages. Potential pretreatment strategies include inactivation by advanced oxidation, such as UV with the addition of bio-film signaling agents that either disperse or interfere with quorum sensing [3]. In water treatment, the contaminants are typically pathogens, colloids non organic materials and in some cases trace organic compounds (natural and synthetic). Low pressure membranes are playing a major role in water treatment.

Table 2. Microbiological results of polluted drinking water samples by microorganisms

For some membranes, there is a need to improve retention at the same or higher water permeability, and this has been achieved by ‘stretched pore’ membranes, [13] where the elongated pores achieve higher permeability along with lower molecular weight cutoff. Water reclamation by RO could be assisted by improved bio-fouling control strategies under development. Guidelines are values set for specific parameters based on studies and field observations that typically represent the upper limit of safe for the use. No single set of water quality guidelines is universally applicable. Many factors, including the level of technology, economic status, relative associated risk, and field conditions, influence the variability of guidelines among nations [2, 4, 10]. Commonly, standards apply to potable water due to direct consumption by people. RO is now the predominant method of desalting. Membrane distillation (MD) is a thermally driven membrane process which has the benefit of ambient pressure and the ability to operate at very high salinity [5] so that overall recoveries > 80% may be feasible, possibly involving MD crystallization [12].

5. Conclusions

One of the main reasons attributed the deviation of the previous recorded parameters from the standard WHO [17]and EMH [6] values is due to percolation of the drainage liquid wastes to the groundwater. Water treatment could see better membranes with both higher permeability and tighter cutoff.

6. Recommendations

On the light of the results obtained through the study made on the different types of water through Dakahlyia Governorate, it is recommended that:

1- Full flushed water for drinking and cooking and always drawing water for ingestion from the cold water tap, some measures like reverse osmosis and distillation units may be effective.

2- Using household filter (with replaceable cartridges) which contain granular activated carbon as an adsorbent, where the adsorption is a major step in making drinking water more pleasant by reducing objectionable tastes, odors, colors and sediments.

3- Removal of some chemical constituents by adding chlorine and chlorinated organics where they have been either implied or explicit in current advertising claims.

4- Chemical and microbiological analyses must be carried-out periodically for the surface and groundwater to ensure the water suitability for drinking purposes.

5- Excess of Mn & Fe could be treated through, oxidation process through addition of air, chlorine, potassium permanganate, or ozone, followed by filtration.

6- Post-alkalization and chlorination are intended to protect the distribution pipe work and to prevent the growth of bacteria respectively.

7- The well location should be located at safe distance from all possible sources of contamination.


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