Management practices and bacterial contamination of shallow water wells in in Bweyale Town council, kiryandongo district, Uganda
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Bacterial contamination of drinking water is a major public health problem in rural areas of sub- Saharan Africa. Unimproved water sources are a major reservoir of bacterial pathogens such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Enterococci, Salmonella which cause severe diseases. Bweyale Town Council, being a mixed community composed of largely refugees, is highly populated and the water supply by National Water and Sewerage Corporation and other sources like boreholes do not meet the demands of the population. For this reason, some members of the community resorted to digging shallow water wells in their compounds as source of water for domestic use and for sale. The wells, being shallow and in the compounds, are highly vulnerable to contamination from run-offs, dust, seepage from pit latrines and methods of scooping the water. This study set out to detect presence of contaminants in water harnessed from these wells in Bweyale Town Council. Thirty shallow wells were purposively sampled and their water analyzed for E. coli, Enterococci and Salmonella counts. The well protection status and neighborhood sanitation and hygiene practices in their proximity were also assessed. The bacterial counts in water samples were compared to water source protection status, neighborhood sanitation, hygiene practices and latrine proximity to water sources. Of the samples collected, 40% (12) had contaminants whereas 60% (18) did not have. In the positive samples, 3 had E. coli only whereas8 had both E. coli and Enterococcus. The level of contamination of E. coli ranged between 5.0x102 to 12.5x102 per 100ml of water sample whereas that Enterococcus ranged from 1.0x100 to 4.5x102 CFU/100ml of water sample. All the samples were negative for Salmonella. It is evident that water from some of the shallow water wells in Bweyale Town Council are contaminated. There is therefore need for community education on sanitation and hygiene practices in regard to management of the wells and use of the water from them.