Sunday, 2 December 2012

Visakhapatnam is now faced with the twin problem of groundwater pollution by industries and seawater intrusion, making bore well and open well water unfit for human consumption

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Visakhapatnam is now faced with the twin problem of
groundwater pollution by industries and seawater intrusion, making
bore well and open well water unfit for human consumption. The problem
is more pronounced in the industrial belt with hardness of water and
chemical contamination exceeding the permissible limits set by the
World Health Organisation.

Visakhapatnam does not have a perennial source of fresh water supply
and thus many residents depend on ground water for domestic needs.
Given the nature of the terrain of the city, the ground water is
contaminated by industrial pollution and seawater intrusion landwards.
This has only increased the hardness of water.

Analysis of water samples collected from different localities in and
around the industrial zone by a team of researchers from the
department of environmental studies, Gitam University, Visakhapatnam,
revealed that the ground water failed to quality international and
national standards with regard to hardness and pH value, and presence
of chemicals like chlorides, nitrates, sulphates and iron. The
department of environmental studies of Acharya Nagarjuna University,
Guntur, also participated in the research work. The study did not
include heavy metal contamination.

The study revealed that the problem of ground water pollution was
further compounded, as many industries are located in the upwind
direction of the city. This also contributes to atmospheric pollution
with the wind blowing towards the city. Three-fourths of the fresh
water supplied to the city is returned as sewage and industrial
effluent into the sea or underground. Though industries consume less
quantity of water, the pollution they cause is quite high.

The research team comprised Shaik Rameeza, VNV Srikant, D Mallikarjuna
Rao, and Ch Ramakrishna. According to the researchers, the diseases
caused by contaminated ground water have emerged as a serious public
health problem. It has already reached “alarming levels”.

The study revealed that the pH value ranged from 6.4 to 8.5, which
makes it slightly alkaline. A little increase in the pH may lead to
corrosion of household and bathroom fittings. The chloride content,
which should ideally be 5 mg per litre, was up to 400 mg per litre in
some samples. Suspended solids were in the range of 1180 mg per litre
to 2300 mg per litre.

The water samples had high concentration of iron, which results in
adverse health conditions in people using the water. As against the
maximum permissible limit of 0.1 mg per litre, water samples had as
high as 8.4 mg per litre. “Excess of nitrates makes water poisonous
for pregnant and nursing women. It also leads to the blue baby
syndrome in children below six months of age. Sulphates concentration
beyond permissible limit leads to dehydration and diarrhoea,” the
researchers warned.

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