SHOWING AN apparent long-term improvement in the quality of water supplied by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, results of a survey have revealed that around 4.31 per cent of the supplied water is contaminated in the city. The water contamination levels in 2013-14 and 2012-13 were 10.84 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively.
From April 2015 to March 2016, the civic body collected water samples from all wards. Tests on these showed that 4.31 per cent of the samples were unfit for consumption. While this is a little higher than 2014-15 (last year) results when the contamination levels were 3.87 per cent of the tested samples, the percentage of samples found unfit has over the years declined from 18 per cent about a decade ago to 16 per cent.
According to the civic body’s data, Mulund (T ward) area received the dirtiest water, with 11.90 per cent samples detected unfit for consumption. Second on the list is B ward, the congested and densely populated area that covers Dongri, Bhendi Bazaar, parts of P D’Mello road and others with 8.36 per cent water samples found contaminated. It is followed by H (West) ward with 7.57 per cent contaminated samples in Bandra, Khar and Santa Cruz (West). The samples taken from the hydraulic engineer (HE) department’s service reservoirs also showed that 3.09 per cent water samples were found to be unfit for consumption.
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Throughout the year, the civic engineers and health officials randomly collected water samples to study the quality of supply. Officials from the HE department said the contaminants found in city’s water were sand particles, sewage water, E.coli and other bacterial contents.
Officials from the HE department attributed the decrease in the water contamination levels to the detection and repairs of leakages and replacement of old pipelines. “We have been continuously carrying out the repair of water leakages. While the visible leakages are repaired immediately, we have also been using the helium method to repair invisible leakages,” said an official.
In the helium method, the water supply pipes are pressurised with helium and leaks are identified by measuring its concentrations – the highest concentration denotes a water leak.
Officials further explained that the replacement of the old distribution network is another factor behind reducing the contamination levels in the city. “The work of building larger tunnels and pipelines with old ones is being carried out. So far, around 70 per cent of the network has been replaced of the old Tansa pipeline. The work of replacing other pipelines will be undertaken,” said another official.
According to the officials from the HE department, from January to March, a total of 3,772 water leakages have been repaired. The highest number of water leakages reported were from the western suburbs.
However, activists said the civic body has improved a lot over the years in reducing water contamination but many complaints go unnoticed. “Though it has improved a lot, there are many water leakage complaints which are not being counted. Since the pipelines are not charged 24 hours (having 24 hours water supply), the contamination takes place. The citizens too are to be blamed for water contamination because many go for laying low-cost pipelines that go through storm water drain along the road. So, it leads to water getting contaminated,” said James John, an activist from Andheri (East), who has been working on plugging the water leakages.