Assessing drinking water quality at source and point-of-use : a case study of Koila Bamana, Mali, West Africa

Mathew D. Seib



Ensuring water is safe at source and point-of-use is important in areas of the world where drinking water is collected from communal supplies. This report describes a study in rural Mali to determine the appropriateness of assumptions common among development organizations that drinking water will remain safe at point-of-use if collected from a safe (improved) source. Water was collected from ten sources (borehole wells with hand pumps, and hand-dug wells) and forty-five households using water from each source type. Water quality was evaluated seasonally (quarterly) for levels of total coliform, E.coli, and turbidity. Microbial testing was done using the 3M Petrifilm™ method. Turbidity testing was done using a turbidity tube. Microbial testing results were analyzed using statistical tests including Kruskal-Wallis, Mann Whitney, and analysis of variance. Results show that water from hand pumps did not contain total coliform or E.coli and had turbidity under 5 NTUs, whereas water from dug wells had high levels of bacteria and turbidity. However water at point-of-use (household) from hand pumps showed microbial contamination - at times being indistinguishable from households using dug wells - indicating a decline in water quality from source to point-of-use. Chemical treatment at point-of-use is suggested as an appropriate solution to eliminating any post-source contamination. Additionally, it is recommended that future work be done to modify existing water development strategies to consider water quality at point-of-use.