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The impact of septic systems density and nearness to spring water points, on water quality

B. Arwenyo
J. Wasswa
M. Nyeko
G.N. Kasozi


Worldwide, 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean water and as a result, 2 million children die annually due to preventable waterborne diseases. In Uganda, 440 Children die every week of waterborne diseases. High prevalence of this death is reported in the peri urban areas. It is still unclear however the causes of water pollution in the peri-urban areas. The improper use of onsite sanitation facilities such as latrines and septic systems may lead to groundwater contamination. It is true that drain field of septic system located too close to water point, and or over population of the septic systems in a small area can lead to pollution of groundwater. Our study investigated the impact of septic systems density and nearness to water points on spring water quality. Samples from 15 spring wells were analysed for pH, nitrate and faecal coliform contamination. Locations and distances of spring from septic systems were determined using global positioning system (GPS) device and ArcGIS software, respectively. Water samples from all the spring wells had pH value less than 6.5, 66.7% had faecal coliform and 53% had nitrate above 2 mg L-1. While sample from one of the springs had nitrate concentration above the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) standard of 10 mg L-1. It was also noted that coliform counts and nitrate concentrations increases with increase in number of septic systems surrounding the spring well. In addition, increase in distance between spring wells and septic systems indicated decrease in both  coliform counts and nitrate concentration. It is therefore concluded that improper use of septic systems is one of the causes of groundwater pollution in the peri urban areas. The study recommends treatments of water from groundwater sources,  regular monitoring of groundwater sources and proper design and siting of septic systems using more robust methodologies.

Key words: Spring water quality, septic systems density, proximity to spring,  coliform, nitrate.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1996-0786
print ISSN: 1996-0786