Fecal Coliform Contamination of Drinking Water: An Evaluation of World Field Assessment Techniques. EWB-USA Technical Paper 104.
Authors: William Fripp, Catherine Dane Woodyard, PhD, and Marina Hanna
A safe, consistent, and reliable water supply is a universal need. However, a large number of the world’s population lives in areas that are suffering from water quality problems and water shortages. Many areas have contaminated water with fecal coliform bacteria as the primary contaminant of concern. As a result, there are many aid groups that are actively working to develop and improve the water supply in the developing world.
An important first step in such work is an accurate appraisal of the existing water supply. This appraisal often requires a rapid, onsite field assessment of possible fecal coliform contamination with minimal equipment. This paper summarizes a qualitative evaluation of five field assessment techniques undertaken by an interdisciplinary team of students involved in aid work. The focus of this evaluation is on Presence/Absence testing.
The evaluation examines usability, accuracy, cost, speed of results, and ease of explaining results to the local population. Advantages and disadvantages of each technique have been identified and discussed. The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance that will aid in the selection of a suitable rapid fecal coliform field test. The team performed their assessments of the five techniques in the United States under controlled situations, as well as during an evaluation trip to Belize.
All of the evaluations were conducted under the oversight of a professional engineer with experience in water quality assessments and water treatment design. This study and paper is of value to aid groups involved in the assessment of water projects in the developing world.