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Sengupta, M. and Dalwani, R. (Editors). 2008.

Proceedings of Taal2007: The 12

World Lake Conference: 342-346
Determination of Water Quality Index and Suitability of an Urban
Waterbody in Shimoga Town, Karnataka

K. Yogendra* and E.T. Puttaiah
Department of P.G. Studies and Research in Environmental science,
Jnana Sahyadri, Kuvempu University, Shankaraghatta-577451, Shimoga, Karnataka,India.
*Corresponding author: Email:


The present study was intended to calculate Water Quality Index (WQI) of an urban waterbody,
Gopishettykere, in Shimoga town, Karnataka in order to ascertain the quality of water for public
consumption, recreation and other purposes. This paper deals with the study on the influence of
environmental parameters on the water quality of waterbody. There are several ways to assess the quality of
water as deemed fit for drinking, irrigation and industrial use. Water Quality Index, indicating the water
quality in terms of index number, offers a useful representation of overall quality of water for public or for
any intended use as well as in the pollution abatement programmes and in water quality management.
A number of parameters affect the usability of water for a particular purpose. In this study Water Quality
Index was determined on the basis of various physico-chemical parameters like pH, electrical conductivity,
total dissolved solids, total alkalinity, total hardness, total suspended solids, calcium, magnesium, chloride,
nitrate, sulphate, dissolved oxygen and biological oxygen demand.

Key words: Lentic waterbodies, Eutrophic, Physicochemical parameters and Drinking water quality


The fresh water is of vital concern for mankind, since it
is directly linked to human welfare. The surface
waterbodies, which are the most important sources of
water for human activities are unfortunately under
severe environmental stress and are being threatened as
a consequence of developmental activities. Shimoga is
a district head quarter, which lies in the foothills of
Westernghats comprising numerous lentic waterbodies.
These waterbodies are man made or artificially
constructed reservoirs to provide water for irrigation
purposes or domestic use. There is something very
beautiful about these waterbodies not just aesthetically,
but also intellectually. They do not just mirror their
environment, they also reflect the society around them
and accumulate all the Sins of humanity. The
condition of these waterbodies is rather pathetic. Most
of the waterbodies disappeared due to encroachment
and pollution. It is with this background, the present
work was undertaken between April-2006 and March-
Water quality index provides a single number that
expresses overall water quality at a certain location and
time, based on several water quality parameters. The
objective of water quality index is to turn complex
water quality data into information that is
understandable and usable by the public. A single
number cannot tell the whole story of water quality;
there are many other water quality parameters that are
not included in the index. However, a water quality
index based on some very important parameters can
provide a simple indicator of water quality. In general,
water quality indices incorporate data from multiple
water quality parameters into a mathematical equation
that rates the health of a waterbody with number.


Shimoga, the district head quarter is situated roughly in
mid-south-western part of Karnataka state (Between
13 27' and 14 39' North latitude and between 7438'
and 76 4' East longitude). It is rich in small
waterbodies and most of the agricultural lands are
dependent on these for water source.
For the present study, an urban waterbody,
Gopishettykere of Shimoga was selected. This
waterbody located towards western part of Shimoga
city at a distance of 3kms. The water is held by raised
east-west running earthen bund, with a water spread
area of about 14.99 hectares. The Karnataka Housing
Board has already converted the catchment area of this
waterbody into residential site. This waterbody
practically receives domestic wastes and drainage
water from this residential area throughout the year.


The water samples from the water body were collected
at an interval of 30 days and analysed for 13
physicochemical parameters by following the
established procedures. The parameters pH, electrical
conductivity and dissolved oxygen were monitored at
the sampling site and other parameters like total
dissolved solids, total alkalinity, total hardness, total
suspended solids, calcium, magnesium, chloride,
nitrate, sulphate and biological oxygen demand were
analysed in the laboratory as per the standard
procedures of APHA (1995).
In this study, for the calculation of water quality
index, sixteen important parameters were chosen. The
WQI has been calculated by using the standards of
drinking water quality recommended by the World
Health Organisation(WHO), Bureau of Indian
Standards (BIS) and Indian Council for Medical
Research (ICMR). The weighted arithmetic index
method (Brown et. al.,) has been used for the
calculation of WQI of the waterbody. Further, quality
rating or sub index (q
) was calculated using the
following expression.

= 100[V
] / [S

(Let there be n water quality parameters and quality
rating or subindex (q
) corresponding to n
is a number reflecting the relative value of this
parameter in the polluted water with respect to its
standard permissible value.)

=Quality rating for the n
Water quality parameter
=Estimated value of the n
parameter at a given
sampling station.
Sn =Standard permissible value of the n
= Ideal value of n
parameter in pure water. (i.e., 0
for all other parameters except the parameter pH and
Dissolved oxygen (7.0 and 14.6 mg/L respectively)

Unit weight was calculated by a value inversely
proportional to the recommended standard value Sn of
the corresponding parameter.

Wn =K/ Sn
Wn= unit weight for the n
Sn= Standard value for n
K= Constant for proportionality.

The overall Water Quality Index was calculated by
aggregating the quality rating with the unit weight
WQI= q
Wn/ Wn

Table 1. Water Quality Index (WQI) and status of
water quality (Chatterji and Raziuddin 2002)

Water quality Index
Water quality status
0-25 Excellent water quality
26-50 Good water quality
51-75 Poor water quality
76-100 Very Poor water quality
>100 Unsuitable for drinking

Table 2. Drinking Water standards recommending Agencies and unit weights. (All values except pH and Electrical
Conductivity are in mg/L)

Sr.No. Parameters Standards Recommended agency Unit Weight
1. pH 6.5-8.5 ICMR/BIS 0.2190
2. Electrical Conductivity 300 ICMR 0.371
3. Total Dissolved Solids 500 ICMR/BIS 0.0037
4. Total alkalinity 120 ICMR 0.0155
5. Total hardness 300 ICMR/BIS 0.0062
6. Total suspended solids 500 WHO 0.0037
7. Calcium 75 ICMR/BIS 0.025
8. Magnesium 30 ICMR/BIS 0.061
9. Chlorides 250 ICMR 0.0074
10. Nitrate 45 ICMR/BIS 0.0412
11. Sulphate 150 ICMR/BIS 0.01236
12. Dissolved oxygen 5.00 ICMR/BIS 0.3723
13. Biological oxygen demand 5.00 ICMR 0.3723


Table 3. Seasonal variations of the physicochemical parameters of the Waterbody:

Sr.No. Parameters Rainy season Winter Season Summer season
1. pH 6.8 7.8 6.2
2. Electrical Conductivity 380 395 401
3. Total Dissolved Solids 575 456 590
4. Total alkalinity 58 75 78
5. Total hardness 165 171 175
6. Total suspended solids 380 398 412
7. Calcium 70 72 75
8. Magnesium 30 34 36
9. Chlorides 156 174 178
10. Nitrate 42 48 52
11. Sulphate 141 148 151
12. Dissolved oxygen 4 3.5 3
13. Biological oxygen demand 28 28 33
Water Quality Index 96.00 101.7 106.3

Table 4. Calculation of Water Quality index in Rainy season

Sr.No. Parameters Observed
Unit Weight

1. pH 6.8 6.5-8.5 0.2190 13.33 2.92
2. Electrical Conductivity 380 300 0.371 126.67 46.99
3. Total Dissolved Solids 575 500 0.0037 115.00 0.43
4. Total alkalinity 58 120 0.0155 48.33 0.75
5. Total hardness 165 300 0.0062 55.00 0.34
6. Total suspended solids 380 500 0.0037 76.00 0.28
7. Calcium 70 75 0.025 93.33 2.33
8. Magnesium 30 30 0.061 100.00 6.10
9. Chlorides 156 250 0.0074 62.33 0.46
10. Nitrate 42 45 0.0412 93.33 3.85
11. Sulphate 141 150 0.01236 94.00 1.16
12. Dissolved oxygen 4 5.00 0.3723 80.00 29.78
13. Biological oxygen demand 28 5.00 0.3723 133.33 49.64
Wn =1.51 q
=1090.73 W
Water Quality Index = q
Wn/ Wn = 96.00

Table 5. Calculation of Water Quality index in Winter season

Sr.No. Parameters Observed
Unit Weight

1. pH 7.8 6.5-8.5 0.2190 53.33 11.68
2. Electrical Conductivity 395 300 0.371 131.67 48.85
3. Total Dissolved Solids 456 500 0.0037 91.20 0.34
4. Total alkalinity 75 120 0.0155 62.50 0.97
5. Total hardness 171 300 0.0062 57.00 0.35
6. Total suspended solids 398 500 0.0037 79.60 0.29
7. Calcium 72 75 0.025 96.00 2.40
8. Magnesium 34 30 0.061 113.33 6.91
9. Chlorides 174 250 0.0074 69.60 0.52
10. Nitrate 48 45 0.0412 106.67 4.39
11. Sulphate 148 150 0.01236 98.67 1.22
12. Dissolved oxygen 3.5 5.00 0.3723 70.00 26.06
13. Biological oxygen demand 28 5.00 0.3723 133.33 49.64
Wn = 1.51 q
1162.90 W
Water Quality Index = q
Wn/ Wn = 101.7
Table 6: Calculation of Water Quality index in summer season

Sr.No. Parameters Observed
Unit Weight

1. pH 6.2 6.5-8.5 0.2190 53.33 11.68
2. Electrical Conductivity 401 300 0.371 133.67 49.59
3. Total Dissolved Solids 590 500 0.0037 118.00 0.44
4. Total alkalinity 78 120 0.0155 65.00 1.01
5. Total hardness 175 300 0.0062 58.33 0.36
6. Total suspended solids 412 500 0.0037 82.40 0.30
7. Calcium 75 75 0.025 100.00 2.50
8. Magnesium 36 30 0.061 120.00 7.32
9. Chlorides 178 250 0.0074 71.20 0.53
10. Nitrate 52 45 0.0412 115.56 4.76
11. Sulphate 151 150 0.01236 100.67 1.24
12. Dissolved oxygen 3 5.00 0.3723 60.00 22.34
13. Biological oxygen
33 5.00 0.3723 157.14 58.50
Wn =
1235.30 W

Water Quality Index = q
Wn/ Wn = 106.3


Water quality Index of the present waterbody is
established from important various physicochemical
parameters in different seasons. The values of various
physicochemical parameters for calculation of Water
quality index are presented in Table 3. Season wise
Water Quality Index calculations are depicted in the
Table 4, 5 and 6. The Water Quality Index obtained for
the waterbody in different seasons of study period i.e.,
rainy season, winter season and summer season are 96,
101.7and 106.3 respectively, which indicate the poor
quality of water (Chatterji and Raziuddin 2002).
This water quality rating study clearly shows that,
the status of the waterbody is eutrophic and it is
unsuitable for the human uses. It is also observed that
the pollution load is relatively high during summer
season when compared to the winter and rainy seasons.
The above water quality is also supported by the
following physicochemical parameters variations
observed during the different seasons of the study.
Among all the physicochemical parameters selected for
the Water Quality Index calculations, pH is an
important parameter which determines the suitability of
water for various purposes. In the present study pH
ranged between 6.2 & 7.8. In many of the collections
the pH remained exactly neutral. However, when the
average values for three seasons are taken into account
the waterbody was found to be slightly alkaline.
Ambasht (1971), Petre (1975), Shardendu and
Ambasht (1988), Swarnalatha and Narasingarao (1993)
and Sinha (1995) have also made similar observations
in their studies on different waterbodies. Electrical
Conductivity and total dissolved solids were also found
to be very high. Seasonwise it is found to be high
during summer season.
Chloride is one of the most important parameter
in assessing the water quality. Munawar (1970) is of
the opinion that higher concentrations of chlorides
indicate higher degree of organic pollution. In the
present study the concentration of chloride fluctuated
between 156 mg/1 and 178 mg/1. Seasonally, chloride
was found to be high during summer season and low
during rainy season. A similar observation has been
made by Shastry,(1970) and Sinha (1995).
The concentration of dissolved oxygen regulates
the distribution of flora and fauna. The present
investigation indicated that the concentration of
dissolved oxygen fluctuated between 3mg/1 and
4mg/1. Seasonally, the concentration of dissolved
oxygen was more during monsoon and least during
summer. This observation is in conformity with the
observations of Reddy, (1982)., Ghosh and
George (1989)., Swarnalatha and Narasingarao (1993)
and Venkateswarlu (1993).
Bio-chemical oxygen demand is a parameter to
assess the organic load in a waterbody. Many
researchers have recorded higher BOD values in
polluted water. The BOD concentration ranged
between 28 mg/1 to 33 mg/1 indicating the fact that the
waterbody is eutrophic. Seasonally, it was high during
summer, being in conformity with the observation of
Chatterjee (1992).
From the foregoing observations of the
physicochemical parameters, it can be concluded that
the waterbody shows the characters of eutrophication.
Low dissolved oxygen, high bio-chemical oxygen
demand and high nitrate concentrations indicate the
eutrophic status of the waterbody. A relatively higher
concentration of chlorides and sulphates also indicate
the unsuitability of water for domestic use. Hence,
application of Water quality index technique for the
overall assessment of the water quality of a waterbody
is a useful tool.


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