A six-month water quality test of the Wangchhu river has confirmed presence of the bacteria E.Coli (Escherichia coli).

The test was conducted by the Wangchhu Waterkeeper as part of the project of Clean Bhutan and Waterkeeper Alliance. It was conducted in four different areas – Dodena, Dechen Zam, Centenary Farmers’ Market, and Centenary Park.

Project director of Wangchhu Waterkeeper Alliance, Shristi Sharma, said that more E. Coli was found in the river near the populated areas. “In an area like in Dodena, where about 8 to 63.4 MPN of E.Coli were found per 100 Mililitre (ML)of water, whereas about 2,238 MPN per 100 ML were found near Centenary Farmer’s Market.”

She said that where the water quality of a particular stream was not well known, measuring its characteristics over a period of time could help establish the quality of the water and that the tests would be continued.

Leaking septic tanks, wastewater treatment discharge and animal waste contributed high presence of E.Coli in the Wangchhu near the town areas.

Water quality is a measure of the suitability of water for a particular use based on selected physical, chemical, and biological characteristics.

Shristi Sharma said that water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH were normal, but E.Coli was found in the Wangchhu as soon as it reached the area where there were settlements.

“The water was not safe either for drinking or washing clothes,” she said.

She said that E.Coli could cause diseases such as typhoid, diarrhoea, and fever.

Executive director of Clean Bhutan, Nedup Tshering, said that currently the problem might not be severe but that prevention was important. “Our rivers must be protected and they should not turn into sewages.”

He said that if the water quality is not monitored and if people keep on disposing of wastes in the water,it would affect the quality of water.

Rinchen Zangmo