Research articles

By Dr. B N Nagpal , Dr. Sompal Singh , Dr. S K Chand , Ms. Anushrita Singh , Dr. Aruna Srivastava , Dr. V K Dua
Corresponding Author Dr. B N Nagpal
National Institute of Malaria Research, National Institute of Malaria Research, Sec-8, Dwarka, Delhi - India 110077
Submitting Author Dr. B N Nagpal
Other Authors Dr. Sompal Singh
National Institute of Malaria Research, National Institute of Malaria Research, Sec-8, Dwarka, Delhi - India 110077

Dr. S K Chand
National Institute of Malaria Research, - India 482003

Ms. Anushrita Singh
National Institute of Malaria Research, National Institute of Malaria Research, Sec-8, Dwarka, Delhi - India 110077

Dr. Aruna Srivastava
National Institute of Malaria Research, National Institute of Malaria Research, Sec-8, Dwarka, Delhi - India 110077

Dr. V K Dua
National Institute of Malaria Research, National Institute of Malaria Research, Sec-8, Dwarka, Delhi - India 110077


waterborne disease, drinking water, health impact, Narmada River, reservoir

Nagpal BN, Singh S, Chand SK, Singh A, Srivastava A, Dua VK. Microbiological Quality of Drinking water in the Villages, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Colonies Located in the Area of Major Dams of Narmada Basin, India. WebmedCentral MICROBIOLOGY 2011;2(8):WMC002084
doi: 10.9754/journal.wmc.2011.002084
Submitted on: 12 Aug 2011 08:56:20 AM GMT
Published on: 12 Aug 2011 06:20:33 PM GMT


Microbiological health risks are of major concern during construction of Dam reservoir. Therefore, drinking water was examined for the presence/absence of Salmonella, Citrobactor, Escherichia and Vibrio species in the Indira Sagar/ Omkareshwar Project (ISP/OSP) affected areas and Rehabilitation/Resettlement (RR) colonies of Sardar Sarover Project (SSP) in Madhya Pradesh. V. cholerae and V. parahaemolytica were positive in 24 and 6 water samples respectively. Salmonella and Citrobactor species were found in 21water samples. Drinking water samples of most of the villages located at bank of Narmada River were positive with Vibrio species. While Salmonella and Citrobactor species were present in the drinking water of the nearby villages, Rehabilitation/Resettlement colonies and command areas of the river/ canal. Seasonal variation was also observed in the presence/absence of tested microbes in different survey. Thus, there may be the role of reservoir water in the groundwater microflora change in the nearby areas.


Dam reservoir and their irrigation canals modify the physical and biotic features of river and surrounding areas. Public health problems such as vector borne and waterborne diseases arise as result of water impoundment. Water borne diseases arise due to the percolation of reservoir and other water into the drinking water. Water from inadequately maintained or polluted sources can carry a number of pathogens that cause diarrhea, hepatitis, typhoid fever or parasitosis (1). Rajendran et al. studied the bacteriological analysis of water samples from tsunami affected area (2). They found entry of harmful bacteria in the drinking water. At present, public health concerns remain focused on waterborne diseases, with incidence data in both developed and developing countries making gastroenteritis highly important. A diversity of enteric bacteria and viruses has been associated with outbreaks of waterborne gastroenteritis (2, 3).

Drinking water is a major source of microbial pathogens in developing regions, although poor sanitation and food sources are integral to enteric pathogen exposure (4, 5). The lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation measures lead to a number of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, salmonellosis and typhoid and every year millions of lives are claimed in developing countries (6). Groundwater is the main source of drinking water in the villages without any treatment. It may be contaminated by disease-producing pathogens, leachate from landfills and septic systems, careless disposal of hazardous household products, agricultural chemicals, and leaking underground storage tanks. Dam water enters into wide area causing the disturbances including drinking water.

The biological contamination in drinking water is a major problem of public health in developing world. WHO estimates that about 1.1 billion people globally drink unsafe water and the vast majority of diarrhoea disease in the world (88%) is attributable to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene (4). The most common and widespread health risks associated in drinking water in developing countries are of biological origin. It is well known that the quality and safety of the drinking water continues to be an important public health issue (7, 8), because its contamination has been frequently described as responsible for the transmission of infectious diseases that have caused serious illnesses and associated mortality worldwide (9-12). Clearly, point-of-use water quality is a critical public health indicator (8). Dam reservoir influences the ecological situation of the surrounding environment which helps in the change of microflora of the drinking water. Therefore, the microbiological examination was carries out in the dam reservoir affected areas of Madhya Pradesh.

Materials and Methods

Indira Sagar (ISP) and Omkareshwar (OSP) Dams are constructed at Narmada River in Khandwa district, Madhya Pradesh while Sardar Sarover (SSP) Dam is constructed in Gujarat. The reservoir water of these dams affected the population on a large scale in Madhya Pradesh due to enormous changes in the environment. To explore the effect of reservoir water, drinking water samples were collected from ISP/OSP/SSP affected areas of Madhya Pradesh from Sept. 2008 to Sept. 2009. Water sources were open well, tube well, hand pumps and tanks. Water samples were collected from seven districts i.e. Khandwa/ Dewas (ISP/ OSP), Khargone/ Harda (ISP), Badwani/ Alirajpur (SSP) including six RR centers, 5 partially submerged villages and 30 villages located on reservoir and in command areas. Total 66 drinking water samples were collected in three surveys i.e. September, 2008 (7), May (10) and September, 2009 (49). These water samples were examined HiWaterTM Test Kit (HiMedia) for the detection of coliforms i.e. Salmonella typhimurium, S. enteritidis, Citrobacter fraundii and Vibrio species i.e. V. cholerae and V. parahaemolyticus. Equal volume of water (100 ml) was taken in both bottles (A and B) for the salmonella and vibrio species detection. Total quantity of medium A and B was poured in the respective bottle. The medium content was completely dissolved in the water and incubated at room temperature. Change in color of the content was monitored at 36 hours.


Total 66 water samples were tested for the presence/absence of Salmonella, Citrobactor, Escherichia and Vibrio species from Narmada Dam affected seven districts in three surveys. During first survey (Sept., 2008), total 7 water samples were examined. Water samples from piplood and Borlay were found positive for Salmonella and Citrobacter species. In Khargone district, Vibrio cholerae was present in the drinking water of Mahmmadpur while Vibrio parahaemolyticus was found in the water sample of Doongargaon. Water was found positive for Salmonella and Citrobacter species in Collector Nagar while results for Jogakalan were negative of Harda district. The water samples of Kakrana, Jhabua were negative for all the microbial species tested (Table 1).

In second survey (May, 2009), Out of 10, no microbial contamination was found in the drinking water of surveyed area in Khandwa district. In Khargone district, drinking water was positive with E. coli. in Mahammadpur while all the tested microbes were absent in the water of Doongargaon and Magaria village. The water samples were negative for tested microbes in the surveyed area of district Harda (Table 2).

In third survey (Sept., 2009), there was variation in the drinking water quality regarding microbiological profiling (Table 3). Out of 49 water samples, Vibrio cholerae was dominated in Khurdali, Ambada, Satwas, Baroda villages while Salmonella and Citrobacter species were found in Katlay, Kushmania and Kannod villages of Dewas district. Vibrio cholerae was present in most of the water samples from villages of Khandwa district. Interestingly E. coli was found in the water sample from Ganesh Nagar only. The drinking water was positive with V. parahaemolytica from Pipalya village of Dhar district. While the dominated bacterium was Vibrio cholerae in water samples in the villages of Dhar. In Jhabua district, Vibrio cholerae was found in most of the water samples. Salmonella and citrobacter species were dominated in the water samples of Badwani district. V. parahaemolytica was present in the water sample of Kukra-Rajghat and Borlay II of Badwani. The water samples of Doongargaon, Magaria and Andad were negative for any bacteria. Adalpura and Datapura water samples were positive for V. parahaemolytica and V. cholerae. While water samples from Mahammadpur and Surva were positive for Salmonella, Citrobactor and Vibrio species. In Harda district, V. parahaemolytica and V. cholerae were present in the water samples from Jogakalan and Collector Nagar.



The microbiology of drinking water was differed in each survey from Sept., 2008 to Sept., 2009. In the first and third survey, most of the water samples were positive for tested microbes, while in second survey, most of the water samples were negative for the presence of tested bacteria except Mahammadpur of Khargone district. It may be due to the seasonal variation in the groundwater microbiology because water exchange between groundwater and river takes place and depends upon the season (13).

The most common manifestation of waterborne illness is gastrointestinal upset which is usually of short duration. However, in susceptible individuals such as infants, elderly and immuno-compromised individuals, the effects may be more severe or even fatal. S. enteritidis and S. typhimurium, affect both man and animals, generally cause gastrointestinal infections usually less severe than enteric fever in human (14). Citrobacter freundii is found in nutrient-rich waters, soil, decaying plant material as well as in drinking-water containing relatively high concentrations of nutrients. It causes infections of the urinary tract and infant meningitis (15, 16). In third survey (Sept., 2009), most of the water samples were positive for harmful bacteria except Doongargaon, Magaria and Andad of Khargone district (Table 3). However, total 21 water samples were positive for Salmonella enteritidis, S. typhimurium and Citrobacter freundii.

Interestingly, Vibrio species were detected in the water samples collected from villages which are located close to the reservoir/river bank. V. parahaemolytica was found in the water samples from Kukra-Rajghat and Jogakalan which are closest to the Narmada River. V. cholerae was positive in the water samples collected from Narmada Nagar, Chikdhalia, Khera and Collecter Nagar. Narmada river water is directly supplied for the drinking purposes in Chikalda village of Dhar district. This water was positive for V. cholerae. Therefore, it could be assumed that Vibrio species which was found in the water samples of Narmada river closest areas, may be due to the entry of river water into the ground water. The tube well water samples were contaminated with Salmonella and Citrobactor species.


V. cholerae is human pathogen which is naturally occurring in the aquatic environment and can pose a threat to public health. Out of 66, V. cholerae was present in 24 water samples which attract the attention for the fate of this polluted water. Vibrio parahaemolyticus causes watery diarrhea often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Severe disease is occurs more commonly in persons with weakened immune systems. V. parahaemolyticus can also cause an infection of the skin when an open wound is exposed. Total six samples were positive for V. parahaemolyticus which indicates the harmfulness of this drinking water in present and furure.


In a recent study, the groundwater level was found to be exchanged with the river water (13). They found the groundwater level higher than the river water level regardless the significant fluctuation of river water level. At downstream of the river, the river gains the supply from groundwater during the dry season while loses during the rainy season (13). As river water enters groundwater, water tables usually rise around the reservoir but water quality is decreased. The water bodies such as river and reservoir affect the quality of drinking water. In the present survey, there was variation in the microbiology of drinking water. The nearby villages from the river and reservoir showed the presence of Salmonella and Citrobactor species while nearest villages showed Vibrio species contamination in the drinking water.


All the three surveys showed variation in the presence/absence of tested bacteria in the water samples. In Second survey, only one sample from Mahammadpur was positive for E. coli while first and third survey showed high contamination of water samples. Secondly, some water samples replaced the existing bacteria with a new one. In Mahammadpur village, E. coli and V. cholerae were detected in pre-monsoon and post-monsoon season respectively.  V. parahaemolyticus was detected in Doongargaon in the first survey (Sept., 2008) while no bacteria was detected in the subsequent surveys. Collector Nagar was differed in all the surveys with the presence of bacteria in drinking water. There are climatic and seasonal factors which affect the presence/absence of bacteria (17).

This is the first study, carried out to explore the presence of harmful microbes in the drinking water villages affected by reservoirs of dams constructed at Narmada River. This surveillance for possible waterborne diseases is in progress. The details of outcomes in each survey are being provided and discussed with concern authorities of Madhya Pradesh. If a disease outbreak is linked to a water supply, the authorities should have a plan to quickly and effectively contain the illness. 


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Source(s) of Funding

Narmada Valley Development Authority, Madhya Pradesh, India

Competing Interests



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