Study carried out by the Geology Department of Andhra University reveals

A study carried out by a team of the Geology Department of Andhra University has found that groundwater samples in the coastal region of Chirala and Ongole of Prakasam district have a potential of having adverse impact on health.

Among the solutions the study suggested are proper drainage facilities, use of agrochemicals based on soil characteristics and ban on salt-making and aquaculture as they are the main source of sodium and chloride into the groundwater system.

The study was carried out as a major research project of the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India by Nandipati Subba Rao and P. Bhanumurthy, professors and G. Vidyasagar, research scholar.

Improper disposal of sewage

Prof. Subba Rao said that a total of 50 groundwater samples were collected from shallow and deep wells between 2011 and 2014 and the concentration of total dissolved solids, magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulphate, nitrate and fluoride exceed their recommended drinking water quality limits of 500, 30, 200, 250, 150, 45 and 1.2 mg per litre in most of the region. The study covered a minimum of 30 villages, according to Prof. Subba Rao. The groundwater is potable at Chirala and it does not have any problem.

Its quality deteriorated towards Ongole due to occurrence of formation salinity, a natural geological factor.

Health hazards

The quality of groundwater has suffered further brackishness by improper disposal of sewage and aquaculture, says Prof. Subba Rao. The poor palatability of water, the study goes on to say, causes unfavourable physiological reactions, gastrointestinal irrigation, scale formation on water distribution systems, hypertension, salty and sour taste, blue baby disease and fluorosis.

Occupational health hazards included cracks in skin, damage to eye, abortion due to constant and prolonged exposure to salt-making and aquaculture activities are reported.

Strategic measures

Suggesting management measures the study says once saline water enters the groundwater system it is highly impossible to remove it. However, if a number of rainwater harvesting structures constructed, they may reduce intensity of brackishness and also fluoride. Civic authorities must implement strategic measures to improve the quality of water.