Research Key

Evaluation of the bacteriological and physiochemical quality of borehole water in tiko and its possible health effects

Project Details

Biomedical science
Project ID
International: $20
No of pages
Analytical tool
Statistical Analysis
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Introduction: Water is very important to the existence of humans, though could also serve as a vehicle of pathogenic organisms and dangerous organic and inorganic matters. The physicochemical and microbiological analysis of ten borehole water samples used by Tiko residents was carried out to ascertain their suitability for human consumption. The total hardness, pH, temperature, colour, taste, odour, alkalinity, and some common elements were determined.

Method: In the study, the microbial quality as well as the physicochemical quality of several boreholes used by people in Tiko, were assessed over June 2018, to determine their safety for human consumption. Pour plate method and multiple tube fermentation methods were used to determine heterotrophic bacterial viable counts and coliform bacterial counts respectively, while standard culture methods were used for bacteria isolation

Result:  In the physicochemical analysis of the borehole water samples, the lowest pH (5.28) was recorded in the Borehole1 sample while the Borehole2 water sample gave the highest chloride concentration (8.97mg/L). The total hardness ranged between 93.8 and 312.2mg/L. the temperature ranged from 26.30 to 27.60. Total viable counts ranged from 0.34×102-2.20 x102 CFU/ml, <3 to 13 MPN/100 ml for total coliform bacteria and 0 to 4 MPN/100ml for fecal coliform. 20% of analyzed borehole water samples had greater than 100cfu/ml for total viable counts and 40% had 0MPN/100ml for faecal coliform respectively. In this study, 5 bacteria species were identified The borehole water samples from the studied area had high counts of fecal coliforms (Escherichiacoli), and pathogens (Staphylococcus spp ., flavobacterium Enterococcus feacalis and Salmonella).  With E. coli having a frequency of 50%, Salmonella spp 30% flavobacterium 10%, Enterococcus 10%, Staphylococcus spp 20%, and 50% of water samples had no growth. The physiochemical parameter was within the World Health Organization standard for drinking water

Conclusion: High counts of indicator bacteria also constitute a threat to public health. The findings showed that 60% of borehole water from the studied boreholes were not suitable for human consumption and may pose a serious threat to the health of consumers therefore, there is a need for treatment of these borehole waters by the borehole proprietors and also by simple treatment methods such as boiling, filtration before drinking and agitation by the consumers.

     Chapter one



Water is one of the earth’s most precious resources. Although water is essential for human survival, many are denied access to sufficient potable drinking water supply and sufficient water to maintain basic hygiene. Globally, 1.1 billion people rely on unsafe drinking water sources from lakes, rivers, and open wells.

The majority of these are in Asia (20%) and sub-Saharan Africa (42%). Furthermore, 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation worldwide [1]. In developing countries, thousands of children under five years die every day due to drinking contaminated water[2].

Thus lack of safe drinking water supply, basic sanitation, and hygienic practices is associated with high morbidity and mortality from excreta-related diseases. Water-borne pathogens infect around 250 million people each year resulting in 10 to 20 million deaths worldwide.

An estimated 80% of all illness in developing countries is related to water and sanitation and 15% of all child deaths under the age of five years in developing countries result from diarrhoeal diseases[3].

The lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation measures could also lead to several diseases such as dysentery, salmonellosis, shigellosis, and typhoid, and every year millions of lives are claimed in developing countries. The evaluation of potable water supplies for coliform bacteria is important in determining the sanitary quality of drinking water.

High levels of coliform counts indicate a contaminated source, inadequate treatment, or post-treatment deficiencies[4]. Many developing countries suffer from either chronic shortages of freshwater or readily accessible water resources that are heavily polluted[5].

Microbiological health risks remain associated with many aspects of water use, including drinking water in developing countries [6], irrigation reuse of treated wastewater, and recreational water contact [7].

It has been reported that drinking water supplies have a long history of association with a wide spectrum of microbial infections[8]. The primary goal of water quality management from a health perspective is to ensure that consumers are not exposed to doses of pathogens that are likely to cause diseases.

The protection of water sources and the treatment of water supplies have greatly reduced the incidence of these diseases in developed countries[6,8].

In Ghana urban water supply coverage is only 70% of the total water requirements in the urban areas of Ghana. Out of the 70%, only 40% can boost of regular water supply[9].

One of the goals of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) is to reduce persistent poverty and promote sustainable development worldwide, especially in developing countries. Improvement of drinking water supply and sanitation is a 3 core elements of poverty reduction. The MDG target for water is to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

The WHO in 2004 estimates that if these improvements were to be made in sub-Saharan Africa alone, 434,000 child deaths due to diarrhoea would be averted annually. This MDG target will at least reduce the above numbers of people without potable water and adequate sanitation.

Boreholes are low-cost technology options for domestic water supply in developing countries and are generally considered as ‘safe sources’ of drinking water. When properly constructed and maintained, they provide consistent supplies of safe and wholesome water with low microbial load and little need for treatment of the water before drinking.


To provide safe drinking water to the rural and urban dwellers, the government of Cameroon in conjunction with development partners, Non Governmental organizations (NGOs), Community Based organizations (CBOs) and some individuals( Atlantic Drilling Company) have exploited the groundwater reserves since groundwater is believed to be cleaner and therefore do not need further chemical treatment before consumption. Several practices such as fertilizer application, agrochemicals, abandoned or inactive mine sites, septic tanks, landfills, etc, if not properly managed could result in the contamination of groundwater. Microbiological health risks remain associated with many aspects of water use: some microorganisms are native or adapted to saturated sediments and rock, and are present in significant numbers in most water supply aquifers and even deep geological formations [10]. Bio-film formation sometimes encourages the growth of bacteria in wells and groundwater. The quality of water in boreholes is also affected by the presence of heavy metals such as Pb, Mn, Cd Cu, Fe, Zn, K, Ni, and Na. Meteorological events and pollution are a few of the external factors, which affect physicochemical parameters such as temperature, pH, and turbidity of the water. Sudden changes in these parameters may be indicative of changing conditions in the water. Internal factors on the other hand include events that occur between and within bacterial and plankton populations in the water body [11]. The groundwater resource of the country has been fairly assessed in terms of borehole yield, static water levels and water quality in some parts of the country, especially in Tiko. The town of  Tiko can boost the number of such boreholes which have been in use for several years. Most of the boreholes since construction have scarcely been maintained, rehabilitated or any major assessment carried out on the quality of water pumped from it and what health effect this water have on the consumers


Usually, groundwater does not require treatment since it is physically protected from contamination generated by anthropogenic or natural sources. However, groundwater is also subject to pollution and contamination. The introduction of boreholes has increased the availability of water in Cameroon especially in the town of Tiko for both private individuals and the public. However, little is known about the quality of water being pumped up from these boreholes and the health problem associated with these water sources. In this study, we will identify the physicochemical and bacteriological parameters of water from boreholes and elaborate on the possible health effects of drinking water from this source.


To improve borehole water quality in the town of Tiko.

1.4 Research objectives

1.4.1Main objective

  • The objective of this research is to determine the quality of water from boreholes in the town of Tikoso as to improve knowledge on the quality of the water, and the health impact of this water source

1.4.2 Specific objectives

  • Identify the various microbial pathogen in borehole water samples.

  • Access the level of fecal and total coliform in samples.

  • Compare the level of the parameters to WHO standards.

  • Determine the levels of temperature, pH, colour, turbidity, PO 4 ˉ, SO 4 ˉ, CLˉ, odour, hardness, alkalinity, and taste in the borehole water.

1.5 Research questions

  • Is the physiochemical and bacteriological parameter of water from boreholes in Tiko within WHO limits?
  • What are the possible health problems associated with the consumption of this water?
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