Potential contamination of groundwater in the World Heritage Site of the St. Katherine Protectorate, Egypt
AbstractGroundwater is the main water source for St. Katherine city inhabitants, South Sinai. The rapid population growth, high levels of tourism and poor sewage waste disposal (at least for the foreseeable future) in St. Katherine have resulted in potential contamination of groundwater and subsequent high risk to human health. To evaluate the safety of well water for human use in St. Katherine, water samples were collected from 14 different wells covering various inhabited locations in the area. These samples were subjected to extensive physical, chemical and microbiological analysis. Nitrate values of the majority of the studied wells water exceeded the accepted limits recommended by the Egyptian environmental legislations and the World Health Organization for drinking water standards. Counts of faecal indicators (faecal coliform and faecal streptococci) ranged between 2-142 cfu/100ml in wells. Bacterial pathogens including Salmonella, Shigella and Vibrio spp. were detectable in all wells, indicating heavy contamination of the groundwater with domestic sewage. We discuss the impact of the geological structure of the aquifers and human activities on the safety of groundwater for human use in St. Katherine, as well as possible solutions.
KEY WORDS: Sinai, wells , faecal coliform, faecal streptococci, pathogenic bacteria.
Egyptian Journal of Botany Vol.5 2003: 1-9