SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Science

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The impact of uncontrolled waste disposal on surface water quality in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tamiru Alemayehu


The main threat to the surface water quality in Addis Ababa is environmental pollution derived from domestic and industrial activities. Due to the inadequacy of controlled waste management strategies and waste treatment plants, people are forced to discharge wastes both on open surface and within water bodies. Uncontrolled (improper) waste disposal has deteriorated the quality of surface water (streams, rivers, reservoirs) by changing the chemical, physical and organoleptic properties of water. Chemical analyses of surface and shallow groundwater samples taken at various points along streams and different springs show that the level of unwanted chemical constituents such as nitrate and chromium, for example, are higher than the background level. Among the main causes are poor economy and lack of proper waste disposal systems that lead the residents to dump wastes illegally within the water bodies. Important measures to alleviate the problem are to develop the environmental awareness of the residents, proper control on industries, establishment of a widespread waste collection system and improved landfill technology.

SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Scien ce Vol. 24, No. 1 (June 2001), pp. 93-104

Key words/phrases: Addis Ababa, Akaki river, toxic substances, uncontrolled waste disposal, water quality

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