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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

To save our rivers, stop feces from finding their way to our river water 


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Some politicians, some activists, and some concerned citizens are burning the midnight oil and their bikes’ petrol to protect the rivers of Goa. 

I agree we must preserve and protect our rivers. 

However, do we understand the real problem that is killing our rivers in Goa?

A Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) study in 2018 identified 351 polluted river stretches in India. 

The assessment of the water quality for identification of polluted river stretches found that 31 states and Union Territories (UT) had rivers and streams that did not meet the water quality criteria.

Maharashtra reported 53 polluted river stretches. The next seven worst polluted river states are Assam (44 polluted rivers), Madhya Pradesh (22), Kerala (21) Gujarat (20), Karnatak (17), West Bengal (17), Uttar Pradesh (12), and Goa (10).

In Goa, Sal, Mandovi, Talpona, Assonora, Bicholim, Chapora, Khandepar, Sinquerim, Tiracol, Valvant, and Zuari were as per the CPCB study the most polluted.

In 2021, Goa Pollution Control Board conducted a study to analyze the water quality of the rivers in Goa. 

It was reported that the water quality data analysis for the year 2021-2022, revealed that State’s major rivers – Mandovi, Zuari, Sal, Tiracol, Chapora, and Sinquerim are highly polluted. 

“Faecal coliform is exceeding the permissible limit as per CPCB classification. In addition, waters at a few of the above locations, at times, indicate non-compliance to the prescribed limits in respect of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (B.O.D.) or pH, and hence, in general, water quality at these locations is not satisfactory,” the Board said in its report.

The GPCB study further revealed that the level of fecal coliform was found to be in the range of 110-790 per 100 ml of water during most part of the study period. 

The GSPCB study looked at the water quality with respect to major indicators such as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), dissolved oxygen (DO), fecal matter of humans and other animals (fecal coliform), total dissolved solids (TDS), turbidity and 45 other parameters. 

The rivers in Goa have got polluted to such an extent extend that their water has become unsafe for human consumption due to the presence of fecal coliform bacteria resulting due to the release of sewerage in it, a study has revealed.

The untreated sewerage which is released in the rivers is polluting the waters in mostly all the prominent water bodies says the report by Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB).

The study mentioned that Rivers Sal and Bicholim are the most contaminated while Mhadei (which is also called Mandovi) and Khandepar are the least polluted ones in the state.

The presence of fecal coliform bacteria in the rivers of Goa indicates that the water has been contaminated with the fecal material of humans or other animals. The presence of fecal contamination is an indicator that a potential health risk exists for individuals exposed to this water. 

Fecal coliform bacteria may occur in ambient water as a result of the overflow of domestic sewage or non-point sources of human and animal waste.

Fecal Coliform bacteria indicate the presence of sewage contamination of a waterway and the possible presence of other pathogenic organisms.

Numerous studies indicate that fecal coliform bacteria can enter rivers through the direct discharge of waste from mammals and birds, from agricultural and storm runoff, and from untreated human sewage. 

Lack of home septic tanks is a serious concern. Sometimes individual home septic tanks can become overloaded during the rainy season and allow untreated human wastes to flow into drainage ditches and nearby waters. 

Agricultural practices such as allowing animal wastes to wash into nearby streams during the rainy season, spreading manure and fertilizer on fields during rainy periods, and allowing livestock watering in streams, can all contribute to fecal coliform contamination.

If fecal coliform counts are high (over 200 colonies per 100 mL of water sample) in a river, there is a greater chance that pathogenic organisms are also present. A person swimming in such waters has a greater chance of getting sick from swallowing disease-causing organisms, or from pathogens entering the body through cuts in the skin, the nose, mouth, or ears. Drinking such water is equally hazardous. 

Diseases and illnesses such as typhoid fever, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, dysentery, and ear infections can be contracted in waters with high fecal coliform counts.

The water quality in the rivers in Goa is abysmal. If we want to save our rivers we must stop feces from finding their way to our river water. 


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