Hand-dug Well Water Quality: The Case of Two Peri-Urban Communities in Ghana
Many rural and peri-urban areas in developing countries including Ghana face challenges with access to good quality drinking water. These areas often depend on surface water or ground water sources which are often compromised with excess levels of nitrate, chloride and microbial pathogens. This study sought to assess the effect of household latrine system on household water quality of two peri-urban communities in the Upper West Region of Ghana. Geographic Information Systems were used to map the latrine location and elevation of household wells relative to latrines. Latrines and wells were visually inspected. Water samples were also collected from the selected household wells and tested for pH, chlorine, turbidity, colour, conductivity, temperature, total dissolved solids, nitrites and nitrates. Selected community borehole water were used for controls. The study showed average latrine location relative to household well was 13.7 m. The difference in elevation between the wells and latrines is at an average of 0.7m. All the household latrines were improved latrines and household wells with 47% of them having lids to cover them. The water quality observed were all within the WHO drinking water quality for the physicochemical parameters assessed. The study however showed higher levels of nitrate in household wells than bore holes. The need to educate households in locating of Kraals relative to household water systems is needed. Further studies including environmental and geological assessments are required to establish the observations made regarding why areas of high latrine concentrations had lower nitrate levels. Also microbiological studies to establish the safety of water for drinking is required.