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Water 2018, 10(2), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10020159

Challenges to Sustainable Safe Drinking Water: A Case Study of Water Quality and Use across Seasons in Rural Communities in Limpopo Province, South Africa

1
Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Venda, Thohoyandou 0950, South Africa
2
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA
3
Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA
4
Division of Infectious Diseases & International Health, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA
5
Center for Environmental Research and Education, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, USA
6
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
7
Department of Animal Science, University of Venda, Thohoyandou 0950, South Africa
8
Department of Microbiology, University of Venda, Thohoyandou 0950, South Africa
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 December 2017 / Revised: 16 January 2018 / Accepted: 16 January 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
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Abstract

Consumption of microbial-contaminated water can result in diarrheal illnesses and enteropathy with the heaviest impact upon children below the age of five. We aimed to provide a comprehensive analysis of water quality in a low-resource setting in Limpopo province, South Africa. Surveys were conducted in 405 households in rural communities of Limpopo province to determine their water-use practices, perceptions of water quality, and household water-treatment methods. Drinking water samples were tested from households for microbiological contamination. Water from potential natural sources were tested for physicochemical and microbiological quality in the dry and wet seasons. Most households had their primary water source piped into their yard or used an intermittent public tap. Approximately one third of caregivers perceived that they could get sick from drinking water. All natural water sources tested positive for fecal contamination at some point during each season. The treated municipal supply never tested positive for fecal contamination; however, the treated system does not reach all residents in the valley; furthermore, frequent shutdowns of the treatment systems and intermittent distribution make the treated water unreliable. The increased water quantity in the wet season correlates with increased treated water from municipal taps and a decrease in the average contaminant levels in household water. This research suggests that wet season increases in water quantity result in more treated water in the region and that is reflected in residents’ water-use practices. View Full-Text
Keywords: water quality; water resources; water-resources management; public health; drinking water treatment water quality; water resources; water-resources management; public health; drinking water treatment
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Edokpayi, J.N.; Rogawski, E.T.; Kahler, D.M.; Hill, C.L.; Reynolds, C.; Nyathi, E.; Smith, J.A.; Odiyo, J.O.; Samie, A.; Bessong, P.; Dillingham, R. Challenges to Sustainable Safe Drinking Water: A Case Study of Water Quality and Use across Seasons in Rural Communities in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Water 2018, 10, 159.

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