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Name: Daniel Mwangi Thiongo

Reg. No.E25-0195/05
Project Supervisor: H.M. Mutua



Most semi-urban areas in Kenya are not supplied with portable piped water and in the few areas where there is
piped water, it is very unreliable. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), only 38.4% of
urban and 13.4% of rural population is supplied with piped water. As a result, the residents in such areas have to
look for alternative sources of water. Most of them rely on groundwater to meet their daily water needs. This is
reflected by the results from the KNBS which show that 24.2% of urban and 42.6% of rural population rely on
well/borehole water.
Such semi-urban areas are subdivided into small plots, and its common to find residents having individual plots
within their plots. More often than not, such areas do not have municipal sewer systems. Statistics from KNBS
show that only 19.5% (urban) and 0.2% (rural) population have access to a sewer system. These forces the
residents to construct waste water disposal units (pit latrines or cesspools) within their plots, which are normally
at a close proximity to their wells.
In most cases, the disposal units do not have a waterproof lining. Even most of those with masonry walls round
them have leakages. This is illustrated by the fact that they usually take longer to be emptied than their volume
dictates. Most of the water in these disposal units seeps both horizontally sideways and vertically downwards to
find their way into the groundwater. This leads to the contamination of groundwater sources.
This study sought to establish the contamination of well water from cesspools in such an area located in Ruiru,
i.e. Membley Park Estate. This is an upcoming residential estate with approximately 1,218 plots. The area has
neither piped water supply nor an existing sewer system. But plans are underway to provide piped water.
Meantime, the residents use groundwater from wells. Various water quality parameters were tested, with special
emphasis on those contaminants that have waste disposal units as their sources. Presence of bacteria from
human waste in the groundwater would indicate direct pollution of the groundwater by these forms of waste
water disposal.
Results from the experiments carried out indicated that most wells had faecal coliform contamination, with
maximum count of 76 counts per 100ml of sample water. There was a strong correlation between the faecal
contamination and the distances between the wells and the various disposal units, with faecal contamination
increasing with decrease in distance between the two. It was also observed that most wells had chemical
contamination, especially in nitrates, with a maximum of 0.26mg/L. There was a strong correlation between
nitrate concentration and depth of the wells, with the nitrate concentration decreasing with increase with depth
of well.