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Situational study of the drinking water quality in Quilombola communities in the municipality of São Luís Gonzaga, MA, Brazil

IWRA World Water Congress 2017 - Cancun Mexico
1. Water, sanitation and health
Author(s): Márcia Araújo van der Boor
Raimundo Rodrigues dos Santos Filho
Júlio César Reis da Silva
Jaiza Lima Leite Lira

Márcia Araújo van der Boor
Fundação Nacional de Saúde (FUNASA)
marcia.boor@funasa.gov.br
Raimundo Rodrigues dos Santos Filho
Fundação Nacional de Saúde (FUNASA)
raimundo.s.filho@funasa.gov.br
Júlio César Reis da Silva
Fundação Nacional de Saúde (FUNASA)
julio.silva@funasa.gov.br
Jaiza Lima Leite Lira
Faculdade Pitágoras
jaiza.leite@grns.org


Keyword(s): water, quality, treatment, distribution, policy, administration
Article: Oral:

Abstract

The objective of this study was to diagnose the public distribution system of water and the quality of the drinking water in the so called ‘Quilombola Communities’ (descendants of African slaves who originally fled from their oppressors to the interior and today still live in isolated communities, officially recognized as such), in the municipality of São Luís Gonzaga, Maranhão, Brazil. Access to drinking water is a universal human right recognized by the General Assembly of the UN in 2010, according to which all people have the right to have physical and economical access to safe drinking water in adequate quantity and quality to supply for all basic human needs. In large parts of Brazil public access to drinking water is unequally distributed, especially in the Northern and Northeastern regions which suffer the most of insufficient drinking water supplies. Although in Brazil as a whole 82,5% of the population has access to water that has received some sort of treatment, only 53,8% of the northeastern state of Maranhão has access to such, mainly limiting this treatment to the large cities, meaning that the rural Quilombola communities receive little or no treatment of their water supplies. The method used for the categorization of the water distribution system, was the filling out of a standard form after a visual inspection, and for the analysis of the drinking water, the collection of samples from the wells used by the general population, subsequently microbiologically analyzed in a specialized laboratory, using the technique of chromogenic substrate; all performed by qualified government employees. The result showed that all 12 analyzed distribution systems consisted of subterranean water sources without any treatment of the distributed water, without preventative or corrective maintenance, and providing only intermittent supplies. As for the microbiological quality of the water; of the 35 analyzed samples 100% were positive for the presence of Total Coliforms and 40% were positive for the bacteria indicative of fecal contamination Escherichia coli. It was therefore concluded that the water supplied to this population does not conform to the minimal standard for water used for human consumption as established by Ordinance 2914/2011 of the Ministry of Health, putting the population at risk of acquiring water-born and -related diseases. This present study clearly reveals, that the mere presence of a public water distribution system is no guarantee at all that the actual need of the population to have access to good quality drinking water in adequate quantity is met; be it because of a lack of system maintenance or the total absence of treatment of the distributed water. This confirms the need for an urgent new public policy on a national level that establishes: 1) a viable development of complete and adequate sustainable distribution systems of water properly treated for human consumption in rural areas and 2) the obligation of the local government to establish municipal sanitation and water-distribution policies that guarantee the proper public administration of these systems in cooperation with the local community.

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