Impact of different irrigation systems on water quality in peri-urban areas of Gujarat, India

Type Working Paper - ZEF-Discussion Papers on Development Policy
Title Impact of different irrigation systems on water quality in peri-urban areas of Gujarat, India
Issue 219
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL DP 219.pdf
The ever-growing population of India, along with the increasing competition for water for
productive uses in different sectors – especially irrigated agriculture and related local water
systems and drainage – poses a challenge in an effort to improve water quality and
sanitation. In rural and peri-urban settings, where agriculture is one of the main sources of
livelihood, the type of water use in irrigated agriculture has complex interactions with
drinking water and sanitation. In particular, the multi-purpose character of irrigation and
drainage infrastructure creates several interlinks between water, sanitation (WATSAN) and
agriculture and there is a competition for water quantity between domestic water use and
irrigated agriculture. This study looks at the determinants of the microbiological quality of
stored drinking water among households residing in areas where communities use different
types of irrigation water. The study used multiple tube fermentation method ‘Most Probable
Number (MPN) technique, a WHO recommended technique, to identify thermotolerant fecal
coliforms and E. coli in water in the laboratory (WHO 1993). Overall, we found that the
microbiological water quality was poor. The stored water generally had very high levels of
Escherichia coli (E. coli) contamination, 80% of the households had water in storage that
could not be considered potable as per the World Health Organization (WHO) standards, and
73% of the households were using a contaminated water source. The quality of household
storage water was largely unaffected by the major household socioeconomic characteristics,
such as wealth, education level or social status. Households using surface water for irrigation
had poor drinking water quality, even after controlling for hygiene, behavioral and
community variables. Drinking water quality was positively impacted by proper storage and
water treatment practices, such as reverse osmosis. Hygiene and sanitation indicators had
mixed impacts on the quality of drinking water, and the impacts were largely driven by
hygiene behavior rather than infrastructures. Community open defaecation and high villagehousehold
density deteriorates household storage water quality.

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