The seawater quality at Mumbai beaches and sea face, which are tourists hotspots, are within the range of “medium to very bad”, shows a report on ‘Water quality status of Maharashtra’ published by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). Monitoring 10 saline water stations (sea/creek) in Mumbai, the report found that the levels of faecal coliform content — indication of human and animal excreta — and biochemical oxygen demand — oxygen levels for aquatic life to survive — were almost nine times higher than the safety limit.
The report also observed that the samples of seawater collected from Thane and Mumbai districts have consistently recorded Water Quality Index (WQI) in the category of “bad to medium”. Untreated/semi-treated sewage generated from human settlements and industrial establishments around creeks and near the seashore get directly mixed into creeks and seawater of Mumbai and Thane, which could be the possible reason behind low WQI, read the report prepared by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) based on data on the water quality monitored by MPCB.
Of the 10 stations, seawater at the Gateway of India contains the highest FC count, measured as colonies of coliform per 100 ml of water, to be as high as 1,051.7/100ml against safe standards of 100/100ml, followed by seawater at Haji Ali, which contains 921.7/100 ml. Higher count of faecal coliform content indicates higher presence of untreated or semi-treated domestic sewage directly released into the sea.
“Water quality will improve if untreated waste/sewage is not released into waterbodies. Both the civic body and the MPCB has to follow the safe limit, norms to improve the water quality in the sea,” said Dr Anjali Parasnis, associate director, TERI’s western region.
Saline water quality monitoring takes place at 36 locations representing four districts along the Maharashtra coastline. There are 10 saline WQMS installed in the Mumbai district whereas Thane, Raigad and Ratnagiri districts have 19, three and four saline WQMS installed. There is no WQMS in Sindhudurg district. A total of 43 parameters are considered to calculate the WQI, of which pH level, dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and faecal coliform are core parameters. A WQI of above 63 indicates “good to excellent” surface water quality, while WQI of 38 and less indicates “bad to very bad” water quality or heavily polluted.
Of the 11 water monitoring stations (including 10 for seawater) in Mumbai, Mithi near Mahim bridge recorded an average WQI of 30, falling into category of ‘bad to very bad’, while two stations recorded bad WQI and remaining eight recorded WQI ranging between “medium to good”.
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