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Quantitative and Qualitative Aspects of Water Supply and Sanitation in Khulna City of Bangladesh

M. N. Ahsan*, A. Sakai**, H. Harada*** and Q. Azaduzzaman****

* Fisheries and Marine Resource Technology Discipline, University of Khulna, Khulna-9208, Bangladesh (E-mail: nazmul_ku@yahoo.com) ** Faculty of Politic Studies, University of Marketing and Distribution Sciences, 3-1 Gakuen-nishimachi, Nishi-ku, Kobe, 651-2188, Japan (E-mail: akira_sakai@red.umds.ac.jp) *** Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, University of Kyoto, Yoshida-honmachi, Sakyo-ku, 606-8501, Kyoto, Japan (E-mail: harada.hidenori.8v@kyoto-u.ac.jp) **** Japan Association of Drainage and Environment Bangladesh Office, House No.66, Flat 4A, Road No.8, Block C, Niketon, Gulshan-1, Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh (E-mail: aazad013@yahoo.com)

Abstract In Khulna, the third largest city of Bangladesh, providing safe water and hygiene sanitation to nearly 1.5 million people residing in 45 km2 area are the major development challenges. Since empirical data in these regards are largely unavailable, the present study was undertaken to know the current status of water and sanitation (WATSAN) situation of Khulna city. Semi-structured questionnaire survey involving 700 households revealed that groundwater extraction through private tube wells is the main source of water supply with only 15% households having intermittent piped water supply. However, about 65% of piped water samples tested showed the presence of coliform bacteria due to entering polluted groundwater through broken underground pipes. Approximately 80% respondents use private toilets whereas the remainders depend on communal toilets. Regarding toilet types, septic tanks (68%) dominate over simple pits (23%). However, septic tanks rarely have soak pits and therefore effluents find their way to surface waters through sewerage drains. Accordingly, surface waters were found to contain coliform bacteria exceeding 2.4105/100 ml and fecal coliforms ranging from 2103 to 105/100 ml. The empirical data obtained are expected to provide some basic information for the development of appropriate sanitation strategy for the city. Keywords Domestic water source; Khulna; sanitation; surface water pollution

INTRODUCTION The combination of safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities are the important prerequisites for the sound health of people. Unsanitary environment leads to diseases, especially in poor settlements, and in economic terms, it makes the whole community impoverished. Presently around 2.6 billion (42%) people in the world are suffering from the lack of access to basic sanitation (WHO/UNICEF, 2005). Realizing the importance of improved sanitation, the countries of the world have adopted Ensure Environmental Sustainability as one of the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the target of this goal is to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. Health problems related to the lack of water and sanitation (WATSAN) facilities are universal but generally of greater magnitude in developing countries. In developing countries, 40 to 60% of urban dwellers have inadequate sanitation (Tipping et al., 2005) and slum dwellers are the most vulnerable to sanitation-related diseases because they are the most exposed to untreated human excreta (Paterson et al., 2007). The combined health effects of improved WATSAN are large with an estimated reduction of 20 to 40% of diarrhea prevalence (Gnther and Fink, 2010). Given that diarrhea alone is responsible for approximately 1.7 million deaths of children under the age of five

per year, the potential reductions in child mortality achievable through WATSAN investment appear large (Gnther and Fink, 2010). In Bangladesh, availability of suitable groundwater aquifers at shallow depth and a country wide campaign for community led total sanitation approach have resulted in significant achievement in WATSAN coverage in the country (Minnatullah and Vidal, 2010). However, like other developing countries improving WATSAN coverage in urban area appears to be the major problem due to the precarious situation prevailing in urban poor settlements. High population growth rate coupled with lack of land tenures in urban slums and other poor settlements with no reliable WATSAN services is one of the greatest challenges for Bangladesh in its efforts to achieve the MDG. Though Bangladesh has the highest population density in the world (about 1,000/km2), the population density in the slums is roughly 200 times greater, at 205,415/km2 (CUS, 2006). This figure becomes more astounding when one considers that these settlements are almost entirely single storied structures. In Khulna, the third largest and the most climatically stressed coastal city of Bangladesh, nearly 1.5 million people resides in 45 km 2 metropolitan area that includes 520 slum clusters, with a population of 188,442 (CUS, 2006). High population density combined with inadequate infrastructure including sanitation facilities in the poor settlements creates a deplorable condition in the city. Besides, an increasing rural-urban migration by the climatically stressed population of the nearby coastal areas is further complicating the already dreadful WATSAN situation of the city. Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey indicates that access to improved sanitation facilities is significantly lower at just 39% for the country as a whole and 40% in Khulna Division (BBS-UNICEF, 2007). While salinity intrusion limits the water resources, inadequate sanitation facilities and inappropriate human excreta management are seriously polluting the water resources. Unfortunately, empirical data in these regards are largely unavailable. The present study was therefore carried out to know the present status of WATSAN in Khulna City Corporation (KCC) area with an ultimate aim to develop options for the sustainable WATSAN strategy for the city in particular and for the country in general. METHODS Description of the study area Bangladesh is divided into six administrative divisions each consisting of a city corporation of which, Khulna is the third largest city. It is located on a natural levee of the Rupsha and Bhairab rivers between 2138 and 231 north latitude and 898 and 8958 east longitude and characterized by the Ganges tidal floodplains with low relief, criss-crossed by tidal rivers near the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest of the world. The Khulna Municipality was established in 1884 and in 1991 it was converted to KCC. Fig. 1 shows the location of KCC in the context of Khulna District and Bangladesh. Approach and study methodology The research approach included focus group discussion, Fig. 1. Map of Khulna city workshop, questionnaire survey, water quality analysis as well as compilation of secondary sources of information from various public agencies, NGOs, journals and reports. Following stakeholder analysis, WATSAN related data were collected using questionnaire survey whereas on-site and laboratory analyses of water samples were carried out to determine water quality parameters for different water sources, effluents and surface waters of the city.

Sample size and distribution. Stratified random sampling procedure was followed to select 700 households from KCC for questionnaire survey conducted during Januray 2010 and January 2011. The total KCC area was divided into different categories based on demographic profile and housing condition followed by sample size determination according to proportional allocation method for each of the strata and finally the individual households were randomly selected from the strata. The distribution of sampling areas with the number of households is shown in Table 1. Colony, originally built for factory workers, is similar to slum because infrastructures including sanitation facility have been dilapidated with times. Therefore, colony and slum can be regarded as the poor settlements in KCC. Table 1. Sample distribution for household WATSAN survey in KCC Area Slum Colony Industrial area Old city area Khulna Development Authority (KDA) residential area Total Number 160 40 80 215 205 700 % of total 23 6 11 31 29 100

Analytical methods. For physicochemical and bacteriological water quality analyses, 15 sampling sites comprising three categories were identified as shown in Table 2. Three samples from each of the 15 sites were used for the analyses. Table 2. Category and source of waters for physicochemical and microbial analyses Water sources Effluent waters Deep tube well (DTW) Septic tank effluent (STE) Shallow tube well (STW) Residential grey water (RGW) Piped supply water (PSW) Slum drain effluent (SDE) Fish processing effluent (FPE) Small drain water (SDW) Large drain water (LDW) Mayur discharge point (MDP) Surface waters Slum pond water (SPW) Rupsha high tide (RHT) Rupsha low tide (RLT) Batiaghata high tide (BHT) Batiaghata low tide (BLT)

The physicochemical parameters including electric conductivity (EC), pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), total suspended solids (TSS), dissolved oxygen (DO), 5-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), chemical oxygen demand (COD), ammonium nitrogen (NH4-N), nitrate (NO3-) and orthophosphate (PO43-) were determined on-site using portable meters or in the laboratory following standard procedures (APHA, 1998). The water samples were also analyzed for enumeration of total and faecal coliform bacteria using most probable number (MPN) method (FDA, 1984). RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Semi-structured questionnaire survey involving 700 stratified and randomly selected households was carried out to determine various aspects of WATSAN in KCC including supply and demand of water, sanitation facilities, waste water flow, water quality as well as knowledge related to sanitation. To make sure that the survey results reflect issues and concerns of both males and

females similar number of respondents from both sexes was interviewed during the survey. Water source, supply and utilization Groundwater extraction through public or private deep tube wells is the main domestic water source of KCC. Deep tube well water is being used by about 60% households while supply waters are mostly used by those living in colony and old city areas (Fig. 2). Although supply water covers about 35% of all available sources, only Supply water Deep tube well 15% comprise household intermittent Shallow tube well River/Canal/Pond piped water supply while the reminder KCC total accounts for approximately 5,000 street hydrants targeting the slum and colony KDA R/A dwellers. It should be mentioned that Old city A the source of supply water is also groundwater. There are 18 pumps in Industrial A KCC to supply groundwater extracted Colony from 54 production tube wells. The Slum piped water is exclusively used for household purposes other than drinking 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% and cooking because of objectionable Percentage of households quality. Yet, considerable demand exists for piped water because of physical and Fig. 2. Source of water in Khulna city psychological burden associated with collecting tube well waters, particularly for those living in the poor settlements. Although 90% of the households surveyed rely on public (77%) or private (13%) deep tube wells for drinking water, about one fifth of them face excess iron and salinity problem in the drinking waters. The total water consumption was estimated to be about 98 litre/person/day, which is slightly higher than 72 litre estimated by JICA as part of a feasibility study (JICA, 2010). However, the water use pattern varies among different areas with the highest in the residential areas (118 litre) and the lowest in the slums (85 litre). Sanitation facilities Type of toilet is a good indicator of sanitation status of a household or an area. In KCC area about 75% households have septic tanks while the remainders use basic pit latrines (Fig. 3). However, septic tanks rarely have soak pits and therefore, raw effluents irrespective of toilets types find their way directly to open drains and canals thereby contaminating the water bodies. Hanging latrines and open defecation over open drains, though a few in numbers, are mostly found in slums.
Septic tank Toilet open in drain KCC total Pit latrine Hanging/open defecation

Household category

Once every year Once in ten years KCC total

Once in five years Never/don't remember

Household category

Household category

KDA R/A Old city A Industiral A Colony Slum 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

KDA R/A Old city A Industiral A Colony Slum 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

Percentage of households

Percentage of households

Fig. 3. Type of toilets in Khulna city

Fig. 4. Sludge removal frequency from septic tanks in Khulna city

Similar deplorable situation exists in case of septage management. About 30% households never desludged their septic tanks while about 40% did it once during the last 10 years (Fig. 4). No body approached KCC for vacuum desludging; instead they relied on professional sweepers who collect sludge materials simply by shovels and buckets. Nevertheless, the desludged materials are left untreated on the side of the roads near the drains for drying (38%) or dumped elsewhere (59%). Community perception It was found that knowledge regarding WATSAN differ among different strata of the KCC population with considerable lack of right knowledge and attitude among the slum and colony dwellers where about 60% of population suffer from water borne disease as compared to about 24% in other areas. Yet, community perception on sanitation is relatively low in the poor settlements (Fig. 5). Similarly, although the conditions related to the living environments are inferior, the willingness to improve their sanitation facilities is low among them (Fig 6).
Strongly agree Not sure/Don't know Moderately agree Don't agree

Strong Don't care KCC total

Moderate No

Household category

KCC total KDA R/A Old city A Industiral A Colony A Slum A 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

Category of area

KDA R/A Old city A Industiral A Colony Slum 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

Percentage of households

Percetage of households

Fig. 5. Perception on the knowledge that unhygienic sanitation is related to disease

Fig. 6. Willingness to improve current sanitation condition of the community

Water supply and wastewater flow Fig. 7 shows water supply and wastewater flow diagram surrounding KCC. The flow rates have been calculated based on total population, unit water usage per person and ratio of black and grey water discharges as obtained from the results of the questionnaire survey. As can be seen, septic tank is the sole treatment facility for the black waters. However, malfunctioning septic tanks function just as a sedimentation tanks and thus effluents find their way to the water bodies. While most of the grey waters produced (93.41%) are directly discharged into the drains, significant amount of black waters (11.46%) are also discharged into drains. Consequently, besides organic pollution the surface waters and in few cases groundwaters of shallow aquifer, appeared to be contaminated with coliform bacteria as described in the following section.
Piped water leakage 6,856 m3 (25%) 106,895 m3 4,749 m3 Grey water 114,436 m3 2,792 m3 Black water 13,305 308 m3 17,929 m3 m3
Septic tank

Piped water 27,425 m3 (15%) Ground Water (100%) Deep tube well 105,588 m3 (77%) Shallow tube well 10,970 m3 (8%) Pond / River 605 m3


Wastewater 132,365 m3 Drinking 4,762 m3

Drain 125,047 m3

Water bodies

2,055 m3 Open field

Fig. 7. Water and wastewater flow diagram of Khulna city water

Physicochemical properties of waters The physicochemical properties of water samples obtained from different sources of KCC were determined to understand the quality of water being supplied and consumed as well as to shed light on the extent of organic pollution resulting from discharge of wastewaters. The results have been broadly categorized as water sources, effluent waters and surface waters (see Table 2). Water sources. The pH value of waters from the three water sources ranging between 6.34 and 7.02 is within the WHO standard values for drinking water (WHO, 1993). The deep tube well and supply waters showed low EC values (706 to 938 s/cm) whereas the shallow tube well water showed EC value exceeding 5,000 s/cm. Similarly, the TDS concentration of shallow tube well waters was about six times higher than that of deep tube well and supply waters. This is due to the increased salinity found in the shallow aquifers of the coastal region of Bangladesh. On the other hand, the NO3- and PO43- concentrations of all three source waters appeared to be below the corresponding WHO standards for drinking water of 10 and 6 mg/L, respectively. However, in contrast to the negligible amount of NH3-N in deep and shallow tube well waters samples from supply waters showed about 5 mg/L NH3-N suggesting possible contamination through infiltration of wastewaters. Effluents. Water samples from all the seven effluents contained DO level below 5 mg/L. The DO level of effluents from slum, drain and Mayur discharge canal ranged between 0.5 and 1.7 mg/L, which is highly unfavorable to sustain aquatic lives. The fish processing plant effluents had the highest TDS value (3,840 mg/L) that is about 500 ten times greater than the lowest value obtained from a grey water sample. Similar pattern was 400 observed for the TSS. On the other hand, the 3residential grey waters had the highest NO 300 (40 mg/L) and PO43- (17 mg/L) levels for other effluents, suggesting that grey water effluents 200 contain a large amount of organic materials and 100 nutrients. The fish processing effluents had the highest BOD5 although all the effluents 0 exceeded the corresponding Bangladesh STE RGW SDE FPE SDW LDW MDP effluent discharge standard of 40 mg/L (GoB, Source of effluents 1997) as shown in Fig.8. The figures showing Fig. 8. BOD5 of effluents in Khulna city the water quality results indicate average values and ranges (Fig. 8 10). Surface waters. Analysis of the water samples collected from different surface waters revealed pH values within the range suitable for fish and other aquatic animals. On the other hand, the pond waters showed the highest DO value while the river waters irrespective of their tidal status had almost

BOD5 (mg/L)

BOD5 (mg/L)

DO (mg/L)


140 105 70 35 0






Source of surface waters

Source of surface waters

Fig. 9. DO of surface waters in Khulna city water

Fig. 10. BOD5 of surface waters in Khulna city water

similar DO values (Fig. 9). The DO level greater than 7 mg/L in two pond waters suggest high photosynthetic algal bloom, which also indicates a high level of organic pollution. The highest TDS level of around 3,000 mg/L was observed in one sample from the Rupsha river during high tide. In contrast, the highest TSS value of about 300 mg/L was observed in pond water, whereas the values were around 200 mg/L for river waters. However, the BOD5 concentration of all surface waters surpassed the relevant discharge standard of Bangladesh (40 mg/L) suggesting gross signs of pollution as shown in Fig. 10. Coliform bacteria in waters from different sources In Bangladesh, the maximum limit of coliform bacteria for sewage discharge is 103 MPN/100ml (GoB, 1997). It was found that coliform bacteria and fecal coliform bacteria in almost all effluents were considerably higher than this limit (Fig. 11). Though, none of the tube well waters contained any fecal coliform, nevertheless, some shallow tube wells were contaminated with coliform bacteria with average count of 1.1103 MPN/100ml, far above 120 >110 >110 >110 >110 >110 the GoB and WHO permissible limit for Total coliform drinking waters (GoB, 1997; WHO, 1993). Fecal coliform The existence of coliform in shallow tube 80 wells may be due to wastewater seepage. Another possible cause may be the addition of contaminated water to create vacuum for pumping out the groundwater. Though not 40 35 fecal coliform, but coliform bacteria were also detected in the supply waters, possibly 8.9 originating from infiltrated wastewaters 1.5 1.1 through leakage of supply pipes. 0
MPN/100 ml (x 10 3)

It is apparent that the Mayur discharge point, which is actually a dead river had the Fig. 11. Coliform bacteria in waters of Khulna city highest coliform bacteria. It can be explained by the fact that out of 55 sewerage drains of KCC, 52 end up in the Mayur. In case of sewerage drains, fecal coliform load with an average 0.5105 MPN/100ml is far greater than the Bangladesh acceptable limit. The pond water were also heavily contaminated with both coliform bacteria and faecal coliform bacteria: >1.1105 MPN/100ml and 2.1104 MPN/100ml, respectively. Discharge of untreated toilet effluents seems to be the main cause of such high fecal coliform load in the pond water. The slum dwellers most often use this water for washing and bathing that might be responsible for high prevalence of water borne diseases.
Source of waters

Coliform bacteria of river waters varied considerably depending on the tidal factors. Figs. 12 and 13 show the variation in coliform bacteria during high and low tides. It is evident that both total and fecal coliform bacteria is higher during low tide than in high tide. In Rupsha river, low tide waters
3 MPN/100 ml (x10 )
3 MPN/100 ml (x10 )


2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 1.3


High tide

Low tide
100 80 60 40 20 0 21


High tide

Low tide

1.20 0.80

2.3 Rupsha river


Rupsha river

Batiaghata river

Batiaghata river

Fig. 12. Tidal variation in total coliforms

Fig. 13. Tidal variation in fecal coliforms

contained about five times the coliform found in high tide, while it was about three times in case of Batiaghata river. The number of fecal coliform bacteria is also high in low tides for both rivers. The lower bacterial count in high tide is possibly due to the influx of tidal water into the river.

CONCLUSIONS At present, groundwater is the only source of water supply in KCC through household pipe lines, street hydrants and public or private tube wells. Since almost the entire city depends on groundwater extraction, it is often considered as being reached to the extent of water mining. On the other hand, per capita water demand will be increased in near future due to rapid urbanization and improved living standard. Besides, with an expected rise in temperature due to climate change, it is possible that the demand for water will increase further. To cope with current insufficient supply and increasing demand, the most sustainable option would be the utilization of surface water after necessary treatment. The empirical evidences obtained in the present study are expected to provide some insights for the development of necessary core and add-on options for sustainable water supply and sanitation improvement of the city.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This study has been supported by a collaborative research grant from the Ministry of Environment, Japan through Graduate School of Global Environment studies, the University of Kyoto. REFERENCES APHA 2001 Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. 20th edn, American Public Health Association, Washington DC, USA. BBS-UNICEF 2007 Multiple Indicators Clusters Survey Bangladesh 2006, Key findings, BBSUNICEF, Dhaka. CUS 2006 Slums of Urban Bangladesh: mapping and census 2005. Centre for Urban Studies, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Eales, J. 2008 Partnerships for sanitation for the urban poor: is it time to shift paradigm? IRC Symposium on Sanitation for the Urban Poor: partnerships and governance, Delft, The Netherlands. Elimelech, M. 2006 The global challenge for adequate and safe water. J. Water Supply Res. T. 55(1), 3-8. FDA 1984 Bacteriological Analytical Manual, 6th edn, Food and Drug Administration, USA. GoB 1997 The Environment Conservation Rules, 1997, The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh. JICA 2010 Feasibility Study for Khulna Water Supply Improvement Project, Interim Report, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Tokyo, Japan. Gnther, I., & Fink, G. 2010 Water, Sanitation and Childrens Health. Evidence from 172 DHS Surveys. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 5275. The World Bank. Minnatullah, K. M. & Orsola-Vidal A. 2010 Achieving the Water and Sanitation MDGs in Bangladesh, Water and Sanitation Program for South Asia, The World Bank. Paterson C, Mara D & Curtis T 2007. Pro-poor Sanitation Technologies. Geo-forum. 10, 260-275. Tipping D.C., Adom D. & Tibaijuka A. C. 2005 UN-Habitat, Achieving Healthy Urban Futures in the 21st Century. New approaches to financing and governance of access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation as a gobal public good. UN-HABITAT. WHO/UNICEF 2005 Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. Water for life : making it happen, World Health Organization Geneva, Switzerland. WHO 1993 Guidelines for drinking water quality. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.