Rural Water Development - Quality of Water Supply

About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water.

Sylvester Torsman
Sylvester Torsman

Water Distribution on Earth

About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water. Water also exists in the air as water vapor, in rivers and lakes, in icecaps and glaciers, in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers, and even present in living things. Water is a precondition for human existence and for the sustainability of the planet.

Water as a core necessity of life

Water is of major importance to all living things; in some organisms, up to 90% of their body weight comes from water. Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. Water serves a number of essential functions to keep us all going A vital nutrient to the life of every cell, acts first as a building material.
Water is at the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself. Water is life, as a lot of people say.

Benefits of Adequate Water Supply

It’s common to hear that water is essential for your health. But why? This substance makes up a majority of your body weight and is involved in many important functions, including:
- It regulates our internal body temperature by sweating and respiration
- It assists in flushing waste mainly through urination
- It forms saliva
- The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream;
- It acts as a shock absorber for brain, spinal cord, and fetus
- It lubricates joints

significance of water to our bodies

Some Amazing Facts about Water

- A person can live about a month without food, but only about a week without water.
- Nearly 97% of the world’s water is salty or otherwise undrinkable. Another 2% is locked in ice caps and glaciers. That leaves just 1% for all of humanity’s needs — all its agricultural, residential, manufacturing, community, and personal needs.
- Water can exist in three states; Solid, liquid and Gas. Yet water is mostly liquid at room temperature. Steam can be used in generating power from steam powered turbines. Ice is used in restaurants for keeping beverages cold and refreshing. Ice is also used in sports.

Who controls the Earth's water?

The answer is simple. The earth's climatic conditions, which could be influenced by the activities of humans. The water cycle, also known as the hydrological cycle, is the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. The mass of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time but the partitioning of the water into the major reservoirs of ice, fresh water, saline water and atmospheric water is variable depending on a wide range of climatic variables. This means that water can be induced and would require controlling artificially the factors responsible for downpour, yet this will be discussed later.

Borehole as a source of water supply in rural areas

Availability of water in Rural Areas

Rural Areas mostly rely on surface water and groundwater for their water supply needs. Surface water may include ponds, dugouts, streams and rainwater harvesting whereas groundwater on the other hand includes boreholes, hand dug wells and springs. These water sources pose a health risk to its consumers, with surface water being the more dangerous one. Surface water is exposed. This makes it easier to be contaminated by external factors. Groundwater, the more safer option is dependent on the type of aquifer and where the water is situated. Groundwater gotten closer to places like farms, gutters, manholes, etc., are likely to be contaminated because more of the chemical extractions which diffuse into the water and seep underground. As such, much attention should be given with regards to the quality of supply of water in the rural areas.

Water Quality Parameters

There are two main parameters that are used when the quality of water is analyzed. They are physicochemical factors and microbiological parameters. Physico-chemical parameters are the physical and chemical parameters that constitute the quality of water supply. They include temperature, pH, electric conductivity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solid, calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, metals, total hardness, etc. The microbiological parameters mainly determine the presence of total coliform, fecal coliform and Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) present.
To be able to know whether the quality of water supply is safe for consumption, each of the parameters must fall within the WHO standards for safe drinking water. Quality drinking water should have a balanced pH level, be free of contaminants and be rich with healthy, naturally occurring minerals.

Physicochemical Parameters


Also known as power of hydrogen is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. It can be determined using a pH meter.


It is a measure of the transparency or murkiness of a solution due to suspended particles. A water that's considered to be high in turbidity is not appropriate for drinking. Water should be transparent to be considered as safe. A secchi disk is used to measure turbidity.

Total Dissolved Solids, Salinity, and Electrical Conductivity

These three parameters are closely linked. Total Dissolved Solids refers to the measure of dissolved solids in the water. Salinity refers to the measure of the salt content in the water. Electrical Conductivity is a measure of the ions present in the water. The Electrical Conductivity is as a result of the presence of Total Dissolved Solids and Salt available in the water.

Microbiological Parameters

E. Coli

Also known as Escherichia Coli is bacteria that is present in contaminated water. E. Coli can be harmful to health and is sometimes responsible for stomach upsets . WHO standards for presence of E.Coli in water is 0. Laboratory tests are used to determine the presence of E. Coli in water.

Ways of Purifying water


The easiest way to purify water is to boil it for a required amount of time. Heat causes the bacteria and virus to dissipate, taking out all impurities from the water. In doing so, chemical additions cease to exist in the water as well. However, the dead micro-organisms and impurities settle at the bottom of the water, and boiling does not help eliminate all the impurities. You must strain the water through a microporous sieve to completely get rid of the impurities


In distillation, the water is boiling to vapor and condensed back to liquid, thus obtaining impurities-free water. But this method takes a lot of time to obtain just a little amount of water.


In chlorination, chlorine or chlorine compounds such as sodium hypochlorite are added to water. This method is used to kill bacteria, viruses and other microbes in water.


This process is mainly used for removing salt content and is somewhat similar to distillation. It isn't very feasible nowadays since there are more modern techniques.

Solar/UV Radiation

It is use of UV which can also be obtain from sunlight to purify water. Ultraviolet Radiation kills certain bacteria upon exposure to them. This has to be coupled with a filter to remove certain heavy metals and Impurities.


Filtration is simply passing water through filters to remove suspended particles. Filtration can be done in several ways. There's clay filtration where the water is passed through aggregates of soil, and this is done mainly in rural areas.

Water purification methods


Water quality is not something to be toiled with. Since a great percentage of our bodies is water and also, with water being responsible for facilitating the day to day activities of the body, it is very imperative to monitor the quality of drinking water. Remember, water is life.