Physico-chemical and microbial analysis of selected borehole water in Mahikeng, South Africa
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Groundwater is generally considered a “safe source” of drinking water because it is abstracted with low microbial load with little need for treatment before drinking. However, groundwater resources are commonly vulnerable to pollution, which may degrade their quality. An assessment of microbial and physicochemical qualities of borehole water in the rural environs of Mahikeng town, South Africa, was carried out. The study aimed at determining levels of physicochemical (temperature, pH, turbidity and nitrate) and bacteriological (both faecal and total coliform bacteria) contaminants in drinking water using standard microbiology methods. Furthermore, identities of isolates were determined using the API 20E assay. Results were compared with World Health Organisation (WHO) and Department of Water Affairs (DWAF-SA) water quality drinking standards. All analyses for physicochemical parameters were within acceptable limits except for turbidity while microbial loads during spring were higher than the WHO and DWAF thresholds. The detection of Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Klebsiella species in borehole water that was intended for human consumption suggests that water from these sources may pose severe health risks to consumers and is unsuitable for direct human consumption without treatment. The study recommends mobilisation of onsite treatment interventions to protect the households from further possible consequences of using the water.