Comparing the microbial risks associated with household drinking water supplies used in peri-urban communities of Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Most Cambodians lack access to a safe source of drinking water. Piped distribution systems are typically limited to major urban centers in Cambodia, and the remaining population relies on a variety of surface, rain, and groundwater sources. This study examines the household water supplies available to Phnom Penh's resettled peri-urban residents through a case-study approach of two communities. A quantitative microbial risk assessment is performed to assess the level of diarrheal disease risk faced by community members due to microbial contamination of drinking water. Risk levels found in this study exceed those associated with households consuming piped water. Filtered and boiled rain and tank water stored in a kettle, bucket/cooler, bucket with spigot or a 500 mL bottle were found to provide risk levels within one order-of-magnitude to the piped water available in Phnom Penh. Two primary concerns identified are the negation of the risk reductions gained by boiling due to prevailing poor storage practices and the use of highly contaminated source water.

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