You may be drinking water that’s not just unfit for consumption but a serious health hazard.
Contamination of potable water in the city has shot up from 13% in 2008-9 to 26% this year, the Mumbai civic body’s assessment in its new Environmental Status report has revealed.
The report, prepared every year after examining data from all 24 municipal wards, says a lot of the water that reaches households contains E-coli bacteria, traces of sewage and mud.
Water mixed with E-coli can cause gastroenteritis, and sewage water, which contains the Salmonella bacteria, typhoid. Contaminated water also carries viruses such as Hepatitis A and E, which cause jaundice.
While the level of contamination is highest — 39.30% — in Goregaon, areas in south Mumbai such as Cuffe Parade, Colaba, Churchgate, Nariman Point and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus come in next. Water is least impure in Malad (see box).
In Byculla, Kurla, Kalina and Bhandup, contamination is in the range of 25% to 31%.
Officials of the Brihanmum-bai Municipal Corporation (BMC) blame the century-old pipelines, which run parallel to sewage lines in several parts of the city, for the problem. The BMC uses chlorine at the filtration plant to clean up the 3,400 million litres (MLD) of water it supplies to the city every day. The report, though, states that contamination levels at the 80-plus reservoirs, where water is stored before it reaches our homes, are up from 10.10 per cent in 2008-9 to 22.60 per cent in 2009-2010.
This is a rise of over 100 per cent. In 2006, there was zero contamination at the reservoir level.
“The number of complaints on the civic help line about water being unclean have increased. These are forwarded to the ward offices, which take action,” said an official from the hydraulic department.
However, Gaurav Chanchal, a Girgaum resident, said, “We have been getting dirty water for the last 20 days. We made several complaints, but no action has been taken. Many people have fallen ill.”
Dr Kushrav Bajan, intensive care physician at P.D. Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, said that till four or five years ago, water-borne diseases were seen mostly during the monsoon. But such cases are reported throughout the year now. “We treated eight to 10 cases of gastroenteritis, jaundice and typhoid every week in July,” he said.
Boiling water before drinking it is safe in case of fear of contamination.
The state and Central government, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) also contribute data for the environment report.