Microbial and Trace Metal Analysis of Drinking Water in Lago Agrio, Ecuador

Authors: Claudia Diaz-Combs*, Syracuse University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Cultural and Political Ecology, Latin America
Keywords: water quality, contamination, rural, sanitation, Ecuador
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Balcony A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Water-related diseases are among the major health problems globally. Piped, treated water is often readily available for people living in urban areas, but less in rural areas (WHO/UNICEF 2012; Mills et al 2017). Unsafe and inadequately available drinking water and lack of access to sanitation contribute to 88% of cases of diarrheal diseases (Prüs-Ustün et al. 2008). Additionally, poor sanitation and hygiene practices account for at least 9% of total global disease burdens and almost 2 billion people around the world use drinking sources that are fecally contaminated (Prüs-Ustün et al. 2016). This research evaluates drinking water in Lago Agrio, Ecuador. This project stemmed from community concerns about gastrointestinal issues assumed to be a result of household drinking water. Sixty samples were collected in July 2017 from rural households that use rainwater or groundwater as main drinking sources. Water samples were tested for microbial and trace metal contamination. Preliminary results demonstrated that E. coli and coliforms were in 28% of samples and manganese exceeded the Maximum Contaminant Level according to the EPA in 12% of samples. It is important to note that water samples were retrieved from rural households, which use different water supply than urban Lago Agrio. The residents living in the urban Lago Agrio use water connected to a municipal tap system, while residents in rural Lago Agrio rely solely on rainwater cisterns and groundwater wells not connected to this system. This spatial difference in accessibility is important to acknowledge and is further dissected in this research.

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