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A comprehensive assessment of the Water Quality status of Kerala State
Kerala State Irrigation Department, Kerala State Groundwater Department National Institute of Hydrology, Belgaum
 
Objectives
 
The Government of Kerala had recognised that surface and ground water resources throughout the state were becoming polluted and hence initiated a PDS to:
  1. Undertake a comprehensive data collection and water quality analysis programme for both surface and ground waters throughout all of Kerala;
  2. To investigate the existing pollution levels of rivers, lakes, ponds, wells and other water bodies in Kerala;
  3. To develop a series of vulnerability indices for groundwater resources and to carry out quality modeling for selected blocks;
  4. Create awareness within Government and the population of the location and causes of pollution and to initiate proper pollution control practices.
 
The study collected data from 477 monitoring point and analysed for 20 chemical and biological parameters on five occasions, pre and post-monsoon 2008, pre-monsoon 2009, and pre and post-monsoon 2010. The present Interim Report comments only on results from the first three sampling cycles, and from 14 of the 26 river basins studied. At selected locations samples were also analysed for seven pesticides.
 
Results and Recommendations
 
  • The PDS study provided only a ‘snapshot’ of water quality on two occasions per year; the State must establish a monthly sampling programme at a more carefully planned monitoring network in future.
  • It is important that sediment be measured on a more routine basis as pollutants are often chemically bound to sediment.
  • Water quality in the headwaters of most rivers and streams is good but generally deteriorates further downstream.
  • The major water quality problem in Kerala rivers is bacteriological pollution, often the result of bad sanitation practices, dumping of solid wastes, bathing and discharge of effluents.
  • Better management practices for the disposal of solid waste and improved sanitation facilities must be established.
  • Groundwater over-exploitation must be halted and as far as possible reversed through rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge of aquifers.
  • There is currently no proper coordination and information sharing between various agencies engaged in water quality monitoring, assessment and management in the state.
  • Thus there is an urgent need to make integrated efforts by Government and NGOs to address the issue of widespread contamination of freshwater resources in Kerala.
  • Present regulatory measures need to be reviewed, in some cases updated, and more effectively enforced.
 
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