Industrial effluents dirty River Brahmani

Setting up industries along rivers may be financially rewarding but when untreated effluents drain into the river, the water quality deteriorates.
Effluents from industries & factories contaminate the water source (Source: Wikipedia) Effluents from industries & factories contaminate the water source (Source: Wikipedia)

Water is the most fundamental component of any natural resource, and the crisis of fresh water has posed a formidable challenge worldwide. Among the sources of drinking water rivers play an important role, and in the peninsular river system in India, the River Brahmani plays a pivotal role. 

The paper titled ‘A Study of Water Quality Index (WQI) of the river Brahmani, Odisha (India) to assess its potability’, published in the ‘ International Journal of Current Engineering and Technology’, attempts to investigate the water quality of the river Brahmani at different points along its length, using a Water Quality Index calculation. Water Quality Index (WQI) is a compilation of a number of parameters that can be used to determine the overall quality of water of a river. 

Samples were taken from 14 different locations, starting from Vedvyasa to Gadagadi Ghat in the district of Kendrapada, Odisha to evaluate water quality in the first week of every month in the year 2013. Also, 12 different parameters were measured adopting the standard methods of analysis (APHA/2005). To ascertain the ratings for each parameter, a range of values were selected based on the Indian Standard Drinking Water Specification IS 10 500: 2012. The study provides a single number indicating the quality of water at a particular location and time, depending on several water quality parameters. These indices also allow comparison to be made at different locations of the river.

Findings of the study

    • 4 parameters i.e. turbidity, total iron, fluoride and nitrate are squarely responsible for water quality degradation.
    • In August and October, 2013, the WQI is at a very low level and was the same at all stations, indicating bad water quality. 
    • This was mainly due to the high value of turbidity and iron, because of the presence of large amounts of silt and soil in the water.
    • Where drains from the industries merge with the river, the water quality indices were very low.  
    • Water quality is at very low level at Tarkera, Durgapur and Bido due to the merger of drains carrying industrial effluents from industries like Rourkela Steel Plant, NALCO and Bhusan Steel Plant etc.
    • These indices are effective indicators of water quality at different places of the river to generate public awareness and better sanitation

The paper ends by saying that even though rivers are pure at their source, it is us--humans--who are responsible for polluting it. Stringent measures must be taken to check the flow of untreated water to the river and the existing environmental laws should be strictly enforced to check deforestation and environmental imbalance. Last but not least, the attitude of the people towards mother river must be changed so that mankind will not face a shortage of potable water.

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