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Article From News From Bangladesh archives

Rapid assessment programme begins next week

Pipeline water in 100 municipalities to be tested

Implementation of a 4.9 million dollar 'Rapid Assessment Programme' starts next week to test pipeline water in 100 municipalities in the country to detect presence of arsenic.

The Department of Public Health and Engineering (DPHE) will implement the programme within this year in cooperation with the Bangladesh Arsenic Mitigation Water Supply Project (BAMWSP).

The programme has been undertaken on an a emergency basis following a Daily Star report on April 5 that high level arsenic-contaminated water was being supplied in Chapainawabganj municipality since long.

Presence of high level (0.2 mg/L) arsenic was detected in pipeline water in the municipality in 1998 but the authorities concerned kept it a secret, the report had said.

Under the programme, DPHE will collect water samples and test those in its zonal laboratories.

Sources in BAMWSP said "the most reliable" atomic absorption spectrophotometry method will be used in or the tests. Each test will cost between Tk 600 and 1000, they said.

The tests will be done under the 'urban component' of BAMWSP's programme which will include collection of data about the sources of water in the municipalities.

Talking to this correspondent yesterday, BAMWSP Project Director Abdul Quader Choudhury said, "If arsenic is found more than the permissible level (0.05 mg/L) in any well in the municipalities, those will be shut down at once and alternative steps including sinking deeper wells will be taken."

A guideline for testing and miti gation programmes has been approved by the World Bank, the sources said.

In severely affected municipalities, water samples of hand-pumped tubewells will also be tested and required manpower including NGO workers will be trained up to implement mitigation programmes, they said.

Geo-hydrologists and geo-chemists, when contacted, said the level of other metallic substances like fluoride, boron, magnesium etc. in ground water should also be tested along with arsenic.

"Excess level of fluoride has been found in ground water in some areas of Narayanganj district. Such excess level of metallic substances may be found in many areas of the country, if tested. So it will be wise to go for testing other parameters in drinking water", said a geo-hydrologist seeking anonymity.

There are 224 municipalities in the country and 100 of those have pipeline system to supply water. ( The Daily Star )



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