SAFE DRINKING WATER PHENOMENON

It is essential for good health and is a pre-requisite to the control of diseases

By Dr. S.M. ALAM
Jan 10 - 16, 2005

Water is among the most essential requisites that nature provides to sustain life of plants, animals and humans. The total quantity of fresh water on earth can satisfy all the needs of human population if it is evenly distributed and becomes accessible to all. However, the fact is that water is not evenly distributed or accessible to large sections of global population. This defines the central resource management problem. Water is a substance of paramount ecological, economic and social importance. Water is the essence of life and a constant supply of clean, healthy water is essential for all citizens of the country. It is the most important element in the figurative pipeline of life and with more than 80 per cent of every living thing (from human body to a lonely plant in a desert) on planet earth will, rather literally wither away. Water acts as a carrier, supplying nutrients to our cells and delivering waste products to our excretory organs. The human body contains about 45 to 60 per cent of water. Infants have the highest and the elderly the lowest amount of water in their tissue. To lead a healthy life, drinking of sufficient amounts of uncontaminated water, which contains adequate amounts of mineral. Rivers, springs, wells, the sea and other sources differ in mineral content.

Safe drinking water is essential for good health and is a pre-requisite to the control of diseases most common in developing countries. One of the main objectives of management of water is to provide safe water to people in adequate quantities for drinking, food preparation, and personal hygiene, at a low cost keeping in view the economic level of the community. Disposal of waste water creates another problem. In humid areas pools of such water breed mosquitoes and in case of open drains, human and animal wastes can contaminate the groundwater, which can be protected by proper and effective management of water resources.

Drinking water is one of the human body's primary and basic need, so much so that a man can go on living for up to 50 days or more without food, but it will be almost impossible for him to live, if he is not given water for more than two days. The criteria for drinking water are different from those as fixed for crops. The World Health Organization (WHO) has fixed certain standards. The US Public Health Services Standards are also very similar to those of the WHO. The total dissolved solids (TDS) being considered desirable for drinking purpose are 500 mg/l, and those permitted are 1000 mg/l. The recommended permissible limits and in some cases considered necessary are presented below (mg/l).

A drinking water must be safe to drink, pleasant to taste and usable for domestic purposes. A polluted or contaminated water contains microorganisms. Chemicals or other industrial waters. Many bacteria (Salmonella, Enterococcus, Pseudomonas) and many other harmful microorganisms are found in water. Same are harmless and other cause diseases such as typhoid fever, meningitis is, bloody diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, food poisoning, urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal diseases, vomiting, serve headache and muscular abdominal cramps, etc. One type of bacteria grow in iron bearing water and help in precipitating iron oxide or rot.

For safe drinking and maintaining the general health, the water should be boiled for at least 25 minutes because boiling removes germs, boiled water should be filtered before drinking and covered while cooling, containers for storing water must be cleaned each time before filling. According to WHO standards, one pound of chlorine should be used for one million gallon of potable water in normal season, while its quality should almost be doubled in the rainy season.

COMPOSITION OF DRINKING WATER

CONSTITUENTS

PERMISSIBLE
WHO

LIMITS
A.M.P.
HEALTH

EXECUTIVE

Total dissolved solids (TDS)

500

500

1500

Iron (Fe)

0.3

0.3

1.0

Magnese (MN)

0.1

0.1

0.5

Copper (Cu)

1.0

3.0

1.5

Zinc (Zn)

5.0

15.0

15.0

Calcium (Ca)

50

---

150.0

Magnesium (Mn)

50

125.0

150.0

Sulphate (SO4)

200

250.0

400.0

Chloride (Cl)

200

250.0

400.0

Lead (Pb)

Toxic Substances

0.1

---

Arsenic (Ar)

0.2

0.05

---

Selenium (Se)

0.05

0.05

---

Chromium (Cr)

0.05

0.05

---

Flourine (F)

1.0

1.5

---

Nitrates (NO3)

10.0

---

---

CONCLUSION

Water is one of the most fundamental of natural resources that a country must harness in its efforts for rapid economic development. The role of water in the development process can not be over-emphasized. The demand for water in the country has increased tremendously over the years and will continue to increase in view of the accelerating pace of population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Comprehensive water resource management is necessary for the benefit of citizens in the country.