February 2017

Seasonal Variation in Drinking and Domestic Water Sources and Quality in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Kumpel, E., Cock-Esteb, A., Duret, M., de Waal, D., Khush, R (2017). Seasonal Variation in Drinking and Domestic Water Sources and Quality in Port Harcourt. Nigeria. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 96,2: 437-445


We compared dry and rainy season water sources and their quality in the urban region of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Representative sampling indicated that municipal water supplies represent < 1% of the water sources. Residents rely on privately constructed and maintained boreholes that are supplemented by commercially packaged bottled and sachet drinking water. Contamination by thermotolerant coliforms increased from 21% of drinking water sources in the dry season to 42% of drinking water sources in the rainy season (N = 356 and N = 397). The most significant increase was in sachet water, which showed the lowest frequencies of contamination in the dry season compared with other sources (15%, N = 186) but the highest frequencies during the rainy season (59%, N = 76). Only half as many respondents reported drinking sachet water in the rainy season as in the dry season. Respondents primarily used flush or pour-flush toilets connected to septic tanks (85%, N = 399). The remainder relied on pit latrines and hanging (pier) latrines that drained into surface waters. We found significant associations between fecal contamination in boreholes and the nearby presence of hanging latrines. Sanitary surveys of boreholes showed that more than half were well-constructed, and we did not identify associations between structural or site deficiencies and microbial water quality. The deterioration of drinking water quality during the rainy season is a serious public health risk for both untreated groundwater and commercially packaged water, highlighting a need to address gaps in monitoring and quality control.

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