Bangalore: Don’t drink the Ground water!

Major study confirms that borewells and other sources of potable water in Bangalore are contaminated with Radon, a radioactive substance that can cause cancer

Most of Bangalore’s ground water resources is radioactive. Yes, radioactive! This is no Cassandra call by some foreign-funded eco-warriors subsidised to spread alarm.

Exhaustive research conducted by the Department of Environmental Studies, Bangalore University, in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai, Government College, Mandya, and Central Ground Water Board, Bangalore, have established the presence of high levels of Radon in the the city’s ground water.

Radon is a carcinogenic substance. Experts say drinking water which has traces of this substance can directly lead to stomach and lung cancers. The permissible level of Radon is 11.83 Bq/litre. Levels of Radon in Bangalore’s ground water is estimated between 56 Bq/l and 1000 Bq/l.

“The presence of Radon is due to the presence of Uranium in the geological profile. Random samples collected across the city indicate Radon’s presence in the ground water is beyond permissible limits,” said BU’s Prof R K Somashekar. He and Dr K Shivanna, from the ISOTOPE Application Division (BARC), are the main researchers of ground water contamination in the city.

Radon is produced as a result of the decay of the radioactive substance Radium. Radon enters ground water reserves like borewells. Bangalore’s rich granite source is one possible reason for the production of Radon. Rampant drilling of borewells allows Radon to seep into the water. Those dependent on borewells for their drinking water are at high risk. It’s alarming that 30 to 35 per cent of city residents consume borewell water.

“Ground water contaminated by Radon if ingested can lead to stomach cancers,” Prof Somashekar said. “Reverse osmosis and other filtration methods will not eliminate Radon,” he added.

Dr Bindu, Resource person, Cancer Studies, Kidwai Memorial Institute Of Oncology, said, “Radon is a radio active substance. It cannot be found every where. But then, there are chances of Cancer spreading if people are exposed to it for a long time. There are other factors to be analysed like the percentage of pollutants and the levels of exposure to people in water.”

While Radon is one cause of Cancer, there are other pollutants which can mix with under ground water too leading to Lung and Stomach Cancer. “Usually, chemical pollutants are the culprits. When they penetrate into the water tables, their alkalinity mixes with the water causing ground water pollution. But, this happens in the outskirts as landfills are usually made in the out skirts of the city,” she said.

Chief Radiologist and Oncologist, Bharath Cancer Hospital, Dr Vishweshwara, said, “This cannot happen overnight. If the person is exposed to Radon over a long period of time, a chance of malignancy can be high. The fact that ground water contamination can cause Cancer cannot be ruled out. These cases happen where land fills and dumping of chemical wastes are high.”

Neutralising Radon
Here are some measures to counter this menace:
* Ensure borewell water is not consumed directly.
* Ensure all storage tanks, sumps etc are ventilated.
* Ensure storage tanks etc are kept open for a brief period after water has been pumped in from a borewell.
* Reduce use of granite in construction work.
* Strict enforcement of rain water harvesting.

From Bangalore Mirror

Bangladesh: 77m poisoned by arsenic in drinking water

Up to 77 million people in Bangladesh have been exposed to toxic levels of arsenic from drinking water in recent decades, according to a Lancet study.

Nearly 90% of Bangladeshis use groundwater

The research assessed nearly 12,000 people in a district of the capital Dhaka for over a period of 10 years.

More than 20% of deaths among those assessed were caused by the naturally occurring poisonous element, it found.

The World Health Organization said the exposure was “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history”.

It began after hand-pumped wells were installed in the 1970s to tap groundwater.

Scientists say even small amounts of arsenic over a long period can cause cancer of the bladder, kidney, lung or skin.

Bangladesh was chosen for the study because nearly 90% of the population uses groundwater as its primary source of fresh water.

From BBC

Tiruchi: Tank inflow improves

Increased storage will help raise groundwater table 

TIRUCHI: Irrigation tanks in the Tiruchi region, many of which were empty until a week back, have started getting good inflows as the monsoon turned active over the past few days.

The poor storage at the tanks was a cause for concern for farmers and water managers in the region this season. Apart from benefiting farmers in their respective ayacut areas, the increase in the storage in tanks would also contribute for an increase in the groundwater table in the surrounding villages.

COPIOUS: Koothapar Big Tank near Tiruverambur in Tiruchi district fast filling up following the rain over the last few days. — Photo: M_Moorthy

Though the rain was not very heavy in Tiruchi and its surrounding districts, unlike the coastal areas, it had contributed to appreciable improvement in the storage at the tanks. But the heavy shower received in several parts of Tiruchi district on Sunday night had contributed to an appreciable increase in storage in some tanks, especially in the Manapparai belt.

According to Public Works Department sources, so far 16 tanks out of the 1,291 in the Tiruchi circle covering the six districts of Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Karur, Perambalur, Ariyalur and Pudukottai have filled up as on Monday. Ninety-four tanks had 75 per cent storage, while 121 were half full. The remaining 1,060 tanks had less than 50 per cent storage. The tanks include those under the river conservation, Ariyar and Maruthaiyar divisions in the circle.

The Ponnaniyar Dam also received good inflow and the storage position increased by nine feet in a single day. The water level at the dam stood at 34 feet on Monday against its full level of 70 feet. Water is normally released for irrigation from the when the storage touches 50 ft.

Quantum at Kattalai

PWD sources also indicated that about 17,000 cusecs of rain flow from the Amaravathy and Noyyal was expected to reach the Kattalai Bed Regulator on Tuesday.

From THE HINDU

Ramanathapuram: Do not mix Cauvery water with Ground Water, says official

RAMANATHAPURAM: Pankaj Kumar Bansal, Joint Managing Director of Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board (TWAD), has directed officials not to mix the Cauvery water being supplied under the Ramanathapuram Combined Drinking Water Project with the water generated locally.

He was reviewing the efficacy of the implementation of drinking water project with Collector T.N. Hariharan and TWAD Board officials here on Friday.

Mr. Bansal said that it was important for officials to closely monitor the implementation the project. Complaints over delayed supply, mixing of polluted water with the drinking water, bursting of water pipes, flowing of water on road and excess pressure in water supply must be attended to immediately.

Steps must be taken to begin supply of Cauvery water in rural areas.

Weekly review meetings must be conducted to study the problems and rectify them. Overhead tanks and other water storage facilities must be cleaned at regular intervals, he added.

From THE HINDU

Chennai: Falling groundwater table worries residents

Officials say the northeast monsoon is likely to set in by October 27 or 28

CHENNAI: The delay in the onset of the northeast monsoon is becoming a cause of worry for the residents as the groundwater table in Chennai and suburbs has been receding over the past two months due to lack of recharge.

S. Prema, a resident of Villivakkam, said “the open well in my house dried up three months ago. Whenever there is light shower, the water level rises to one foot in the well. My 20 feet well overflowed during monsoon last December.”

Residents of many areas, including Adyar and Kellys, manage with the limited resource of piped water supply.

For those dependent entirely on groundwater, particularly in suburban areas, the problem is severe. Suchetha Kumaradev, a resident of Raju Nagar in Thoraipakkam, said the water level in the well in her house has declined to two feet.

Water from the Poondi reservoir is being released to step up the storage at Chembarambakkam, from where Metrowater draws supply.— Photo: K. Pichumani

Water from the Poondi reservoir is being released to step up the storage at Chembarambakkam, from where Metrowater draws supply.— Photo: K. Pichumani

“I use groundwater minimally for the past one month and purchase tanker load of water for domestic needs,” she said.

Hydro geologists in the city said that there had been a slight decline in the groundwater level in the city as there was no uniformity in rainfall.

Officials of Chennai Metrowater said the average water level in the city had gone down by 0.2 metre in a month. While the water level in Chennai was 4.1 m in August, it dipped to 4.3 last month. Similarly, there has been a fall by 0.6 metre in water table in the past one year. Last year, the average water level stood at 3.7 metre during September.

However, officials of the Meteorological Department said the northeast monsoon is likely to set in by October 27 or October 28. Normally, the monsoon sets in by October 20. There has been a slight delay this year, they added.

Deputy Director General of Meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre, Y .E . A. Raj said “There has been a deficit of 74 per cent in rainfall from October 1. But, the weather pattern indicates onset of monsoon in a few days. We expect normal rainfall that would cover the deficit experienced so far.”

The city has had delayed onset of monsoon in the past as in 1998 when northeast monsoon set in on October 28. There have been occasions of monsoon setting in during November in at least nine years in the last 100 years, he added.

Meanwhile, Water Resources Department, a wing of PWD, has started releasing about 280 cubic feet per second (cusecs) of water from the Poondi reservoir to the waterbody in Chembarambakkam to step up storage for drawal by Metrowater. Similarly, about 250 cusecs water would be discharged to the Red Hills reservoir from Saturday to facilitate extraction of water for city supply, said a WRD official.

While Chembarambakkam reservoir has only 371 million cubic feet of water (mcft) as against its capacity of 3,645 mcft, the one at Red Hills has 1,000 mcft against its capacity of 3,300 mcft.

K. Lakshmi – From THE HINDU