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Engineering Geology 60 (2001) 323331

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Arsenic contamination of ground and pond water and water purication system using pond water in Bangladesh
H. Yokota a,*, K. Tanabe a, M. Sezaki a, Y. Akiyoshi a, T. Miyata b, K. Kawahara b, S. Tsushima b, H. Hironaka b, H. Takafuji b, M. Rahman c,1, Sk.A. Ahmad d, M.H.S.U. Sayed d, M.H. Faruquee d
Miyazaki University, Miyazaki 889-21, Japan b Asia Arsenic Network, 2 Miyazaki, Japan c Bogra Technical Training Centre, Bogra, Bangladesh d National Institute of Preventative & Social Medicine (NIPSOM), 3 Dhaka, Bangladesh Accepted for publication 6 April 2000
a

Abstract This paper, rstly, shows the distribution of arsenic-contaminated groundwater in Samta village. This village, which is in Jessore district in Bangladesh, was chosen as a model village for investigating the mechanism of groundwater contamination. 90% of the tube wells in this village had arsenic concentrations above the Bangladesh standard of 0.05 mg/l. Tube wells with arsenic concentrations of over 0.50 mg/l were distributed in the southern part of the village with a belt-like shape from east to west. Secondly, groundwater distribution is discussed with respect to its ow and the high arsenic zone (As $ 0.50 mg/l) agrees well with the drifting zone of the groundwater. Furthermore, arsenic-free water supply systems suitable for a small area in the village have been developed. A pond sand lter (PSF) system which puries pond water is discussed in this paper. Prior to the construction of the PSF, the water quality in ponds was examined for arsenic levels. The inow of drainage from the tube wells was found to be the major cause of arsenic contamination of pond water. The PSF installed in Samta is working very well and produces a good quality of treated water. q 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Arsenic-contamination; Groundwater; Pond water; Water supply system; Bangladesh

1. Introduction In Bangladesh, where almost all drinking water is supplied from groundwater, arsenic-contaminated groundwater has been found in 59 districts (as of January 1999) out of a total of 64 districts. The cause of
* Corresponding author. Fax: 181-985-58-7344. E-mail address: yokota@civil.miyazaki-u.ac.jp (H. Yokota). 1 Fax: 1880-51-72419. 2 Fax: 181-985-20-2286; e-mail: aanm2201@m-surf.ne.jp 3 Fax: 1880-28-71402; e-mail: anon@bdcom.com

arsenic contamination of groundwater is not yet clear and it is estimated that about 40 million people are under risk of arsenic poisoning (Ahmad et al., 1998). An arsenic-free water supply system is, therefore, urgently needed in Bangladesh. Arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh was brought to world attention at the International Conference on Arsenic in Groundwater, which was organized by the School of Environmental Studies (SOES), Jadavpur University, Calcutta, in 1995. In the conference the pyrite oxidation hypothesis (Das et al., 1995, 1996; Dhar et al., 1997; Chowdhury et al.,

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1998) was rst introduced and since then extensive arsenic surveys have been carried out by, for example, the Dhaka Community Hospital Trust (DCHT) and the National Institute of Preventative and Social Medicine (NIPSOM). Researchers from Miyazaki University and Asian Arsenic Network rst visited Bangladesh in February 1996 and have been making detailed surveys for Samta village in Jessore since March 1997. The village is located in the south-western part of Bangladesh, near the State of West Bengal, India, which was found to be extensively contaminated in 1988. It was found that arsenic concentrations in more than 90% of the tube wells in Samta village were above 0.05 mg/l (Bangladesh standard) and 15% of the tube wells showed high concentrations above 0.50 mg/l. A report of the biggest arsenic calamity in the Ganges Delta was submitted to the Government of Bangladesh and also presented in the WHO international conference held in New Delhi in April 1997 (Yokota et al., 1997). The reported severe calamity of arsenic pollution in Samta was followed by a research project funded by the World Bank in 1998. In 1997, Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET) tested more than 2000 samples of groundwater covering six districts in the northeastern part of Bangladesh. The results showed that an estimated 1.7 million people in the districts were under high risk of arsenic poisoning (Badruzzaman et al., 1997; Ahmed, 1998). In 1998, the British Geological Survey (BGS) in collaboration with the Department of Public Health Engineering in Bangladesh (DPHE), which had rst detected arsenic contamination of groundwater at Nawabganj in Bangladesh in1993, undertook a new survey of 41 out of the 64 districts in Bangladesh and showed that the oxyhydroxide reduction hypothesis (Nickson et al., 1998, 2000) is probably the main cause of arsenic mobilization in groundwater (British Geological Survey and Motto MacDonald Ltd, 1999). After the survey of arsenic contamination of groundwater in Samta village in March 1997, investigation of the distribution of arsenic contamination has been carried out in relation to the ow of groundwater and the geological structure of the ground. The research studies on the geological structure of the ground is still continuing and an interim report was

published in collaboration with the Research Group for Applied Geology (RGAG) (Asia Arsenic Network et al., 1999). One of the purposes of this study is to investigate the characteristics of arsenic contamination of groundwater in Samta village in order to contribute to the clarication of the mechanism of arsenic contamination in Bangladesh and the results are presented in this paper. The mechanism of arsenic contamination of groundwater will be clear in the near future through the ongoing research studies such as SOES, Nickson's research group, BGS and RGAG, and through the development of the ndings from discussions at the international and national conferences held in Dhaka in February 1998 and 1999, respectively. The other purpose of this study is to develop arsenic-free water supply systems using pond water. In this paper, a pond sand lter (PSF) system is used as a water supply system to purify water from the ponds. Previously, it was believed that the surface waters in Bangladesh, such as pond water and river water, were arsenic-free. Ponds are available in abundance all over the country and are currently used for washing and bathing. Prior to the construction of the PSF in Samta, the water quality of the ponds was examined and arsenic, though at low levels, was found in half the ponds surveyed. This paper shows the results of our investigations on arsenic pollution of pond water and the quality of the PSF treated water.

2. Arsenic pollution of groundwater in Samta 2.1. Arsenic distribution in the dry season In the dry season of March 1997, an analysis of arsenic concentrations in water samples from all the tube wells (282) in Samta village was carried out (Yokota et al., 1997). The arsenic levels were measured by a eld kit based on the Gutzeit colorimetric analysis (Tanabe et al., 1998). The arsenic level of each tube well was plotted on the map of Samta village as shown in Fig. 1. The result was that 95% of the tube wells had arsenic concentrations above 0.01 mg/l (WHO guideline), and 90% above

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(m)

325

1500

0.02

1000

0.06

0.02

0.01
Arsenic Concentration ( mg/ l ) Number of Well

500

0.03

Rice Field

0.25 mg/l

0 0 500 1000 1500 2000

10 under 0.01 13 0.01~0.04 51 0.05~0.09 103 0.10~0.29 61 0.30~0.49 44 over 0.5 282 Total Deep Tubewell for Irrigation Deep Tubewell for Drin king

2500

(m)

Fig. 1. Distribution of arsenic contamination in groundwater (March 1997).

0.05 mg/l (Bangladesh standard). Tube wells with high arsenic concentrations of over 0.50 mg/l were distributed in the southern part of the village with a belt-like shape from east to west, and arsenic levels fell towards the north.
(m)

2.2. Flow of groundwater and arsenic concentration The contour lines of groundwater levels in the dry season (May 1998) are shown in Fig. 2. The lines were obtained by measuring the water level of 38 sample

1500

1000

500

0 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500


(m)

Fig. 2. Contour lines of groundwater levels in the dry season (May 1998).

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tube wells. From the contour lines in Fig. 2 it can be seen that groundwater ows from the north to the south, drifts at the low water table of the south and ows into the river on the east. Comparing the distribution of arsenic concentrations in Figs. 1 and 2, it is seen that the high arsenic zone (As $ 0.50 mg/l) agrees well with the drifting zone of the groundwater. When groundwater drifts, the aquifer might be more in the state of reduction, which leads to the reductive dissolution of arsenic from As-rich Fe oxyhydroxide (Nickson et al., 2000). 2.3. Arsenic concentration in the rainy season Although arsenic levels in the rainy season were overall higher than those in the dry season, the distribution of arsenic concentrations was similar to that of the dry season. In Fig. 3, the arsenic levels of the 38 sample tube wells are compared between the rainy (October 1997) and the dry seasons (May 1998). The contour map depicts the groundwater levels in the rainy season. The symbols (X), (O) and (B) in Fig. 3 show the location of the tube wells surveyed with arsenic levels that were `clearly higher' (X), `almost same' (O) and `less' (B) in the rainy season

compared with those in the dry season. The ow of groundwater in the rainy season is fairly different from that in the dry season. In the rainy season, as some of the tube wells show quick response to the rainfall, there might be local ow of groundwater. In such a situation it may be considered that arsenic contained in the upper muddy layer (Asia Arsenic Network et al., 1999) is ushed into the groundwater by the local ow.

3. Arsenic contamination of pond water 3.1. Survey of ponds Prior to the construction of a PSF, 14 ponds were surveyed in May 1998 with the purpose of investigating the causes of arsenic pollution of the pond water. The locations of the ponds and tube wells, for example P6 and 160, respectively, are shown in Fig. 4. Measurements of the arsenic concentration and the water levels of both ponds and the nearby shallow tube wells were taken in order to check the possibility of inltration of groundwater into the ponds. The drainage from the tube wells mainly ows

(m)
N

1500

1000

Ratio of Arsenic Levels

500

Rainy > Dry Rainy = Dry Rainy < Dry

0 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 ( m )


Fig. 3. Ratio of arsenic concentration in the rainy season to that in the dry season.

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(m)
1500

P8 PSF
1000
167

P9

P7 P6
57

P14 P10
500

P5
61

50

P12P4 P15 P2 P13 39 38 32 31 P11 30


28 25

162 158 160 163 164 159161 51 165 53

P3

P1

0 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500

(m)

Fig. 4. Locations of ponds and shallow tubewells.

into the ponds since there is no sewerage in Samta. Therefore, it was necessary to examine the water quality parameters such as electrical conductivity (EC), redox potential (ORP), pH, temperature and turbidity of the pond water. Table 1 shows the survey results.
Table 1 Survey results of ponds Pond As (mg/l) Water level (m) Pond P1 P2 P3 P4 P5 P6 P7 P8 P9 P10 P11 P12 P13 P14 0.02 0.00 0.02 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.02 0.03 0.04 0.03 0.00 0.00 0.00 Well Turbid Turbid Turbid Turbid Turbid Clean Clean Turbid Turbid Clean Turbid Turbid Clean Clean Turbidity

3.2. Investigation of the causes of arsenic contamination of ponds Arsenic, though at low levels, was found in seven ponds as shown in the second column of Table 1. The water level of nine out of 14 ponds was measured, and

EC (mS/cm)

pH

ORP (mV)

Temp. (8C)

22.68 22.95 22.41 23.29

24.31 24.27 24.26 24.27

525 488 545 711 523 786 408 555 417

8.7 9.3 8.7 8.6 8.4 7.7 8.8 8.0 9.0

145 124 165 146 166 119 156 165 138

35.1 33.3 33.9 33.8 35.7 36.6 34.3 35.1 36.0

23.19 23.21 21.54 22.79 23.55

24.17 24.35 24.27 24.14 24.21

359

8.4

140

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is shown in the third column. The level was standardized with respect to a temporary benchmark in the centre of Samta village. The pond water levels were compared with the highest water levels of shallow tube wells near the ponds as shown in the fourth column of Table 1. It is observed that the former is higher than the latter. Since pond water is not connected to groundwater, it is assumed that arsenic, which is generally contained in the groundwater, does not inltrate into the ponds. Drainage from the shallow tube wells, often ows into the ponds. The drainage of a tube well (As 0.60 mg/l) near pond 11 accumulated as a puddle around the well and then owed into the pond. The arsenic concentrations in the puddle and in the pond were 0.40 and 0.03 mg/l, respectively. The same relation between drainage from the tube well and arsenic contamination of pond water was also observed with pond 4, selected for the PSF operation. On the other hand, there was a shallow highly arseniccontaminated tube well in Samta (As 1.16 mg/l), near pond 12, into which the drainage from the tube well had owed for about 10 years. After the tube well was sealed about two years ago, a new deep tube well was installed in the area. The arsenic concentration of the deep tube well has ordinarily varied in the range of 0.030.07 mg/l, rarely showing a higher concentration. Arsenic could not be detected in the water from pond 12 in spite of a history of arsenic contamination from the old tube well mentioned above. It is considered that the arsenic had been adsorbed to sediment grains in the pond bed (co-precipitation with sediment grains in suspension) during the past two years, after the sealing of the old shallow tube well. The same precipitation is reported in such research results as arsenic transport in the river (Dunbar and Chapin, 1995) and arsenic analyses of sediments from tube well water samples (Akai et al., 1999). It was inferred from the above examination of three ponds that surface drainage from an arsenic-polluted tube well is a cause of arsenic contamination of pond water and that is why no arsenic contamination was found in the pond water after surface drainage from a highly arsenic-contaminated tube well was stopped two years ago. The turbidity of the pond water is also shown in the fth column of Table 1. The term `turbid' refers to the

water colour that was bluish-green or reddish-column, caused by eutrophication. Arsenic-contaminated water of six out of seven ponds was similarly coloured. No turbidity colour was observed in more than half the uncontaminated ponds. The values of EC show many dissolved materials in these ponds, though at a lower level compared with those in the groundwater, 6001000mS/cm (Bando et al., 1999). Soils from the bed of arsenic-contaminated and uncontaminated ponds were examined. It was found that the bed of the arsenic-contaminated ponds was very slimy with a thick mud layer. The bed of the uncontaminated ponds supported pond snails. Pond beds, where the arsenic might precipitate with the sediment grains or dissolve from the clay ground surrounding the pond (Bando et al., 1999), are considered to play a major role in the release of arsenic into pond water in the anaerobic condition, as shown in the test of arsenic dissolution from cultured mud under anaerobic condition (Akai et al., 1999). Although pond 4, which was selected for the PSF operation, contained arsenic and was dirty as mentioned above, it was considered that arsenic in the water and bed of the pond would be removed by re-excavating the pond in the dry season in order to ensure the needed volume of pond water for PSF and by stopping the inow of drainage from the nearby tube wells.

4. Pond sand lter 4.1. Outline of PSF The PSF comprises two systems as shown in Fig. 5. One is a horizontal roughing lter (HRF) developed by the All Indian Institute of Hygiene and Public Health (AIIH & PH) (Nath et al., 1997) and the other is a slow sand lter (SSF). The HRF is installed as the pre-treatment for SSF, an alternative process of coagulationsedimentation. As shown in Fig. 5(a), the HRF is divided into three parts: the inlet structure, the lter bed composed of three compartments, and the outlet structure. The cross-section of HRF is 1.0 m (W) 1.4 m (D). The length of both the inlet and outlet structures is 0.8 m, and the rst, second and third compartments of the lter bed have lengths of 1.0, 2.0 and 2.0 m, respectively. The lter bed is

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270

329

hand pomp pond water HRF

SSF 180

100

100

inlet
15mm

flow direction
10mm 5mm

outlet

drain 40
80
2 70

gravel

sand

drain 40 80 100 200 800 200

(cm)

Fig. 5. Structure of PSF.

packed with gravel of 15 mm diameter in the rst compartment, 10 mm in the second and 5 mm in the third. The walls separating each compartment have many small holes. Water, pumped up from the pond, ows horizontally through the voids of the packed gravel in each compartment of the lter bed. Since the surfaces of the gravel particles provide a large bed for the settlement of the suspended solid particles in the owing water, HRF is able to decrease the suspended solids concentration of raw water. HRF could be cleaned by draining off the accumulated solid particles through pre-laid pipes at the bottom of the lter bed (see Fig. 5 (b)). The SSF generally works as a biological lter to improve the water quality further after HRF. The thicknesses of the sand and the gravel media are 600 and 400 mm, respectively. The water treatment capa-

city of the PSF is 1000 l/h. This treated water capacity can support the daily drinking and cooking requirements of 100 households, assuming that a person consumes 6 l of water per day. 4.2. Model test of HRF The performance of HRF was examined using a model of reduced scale 1:2 in length, height and width at the laboratory of Miyazaki University. The raw water was articially prepared by mixing kaolin with water, because turbidity is dened as the concentration of kaolin suspended in water, and the kaolin concentration in the outlet was measured after the water owed through the lter bed for about 5 h. The kaolin concentration was reduced to 1/10 as shown in Fig. 6. Since the turbidity of the pond water for PSF in Samta is less than 50 mg/l, HRF

Fig. 6. Decrease of turbidity in HRF model test.

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was considered to work well as 5 mg/l would be a suitable load for the SSF. 4.3. PSF tests results in Samta The construction of PSF in Samta was started in October 1998 and completed in January 1999. Pond 4, which contained a little arsenic (0.04 mg/l) in the water, was donated for PSF operation by the owner. The drain from a shallow tube well nearby had been changed and therefore no waste tube well water owed into pond 4. Arsenic concentration of the pond water was measured just after the completion of PSF construction at the end of January, that is, three months after the inow of waste tube well water was stopped. No arsenic was found in the pond water. This may indicate that the same phenomenon occurred during the three months as in pond 12 as mentioned previously. After the completion of PSF, coliform bacteria and general bacteria decreased as shown in Fig. 7. The number of coliform bacteria groups in the HRF outlet was only four (measured on 12 March 1999), indicating that the HRF was performing well. Potable water was supplied from March to May 1999 at the rate of 220 l/h from a single tap. Two taps were installed on the PSF and another twothree taps are required to satisfy the above-mentioned design condition of 1000 l/h. The PSF started working again in October 1999 after the pond was re-excavated and lled up with rainwater during the rainy season, and is now
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working well. PSF No. 2 was constructed in February 2000 at an adjacent village and is now supplying good treated water. 5. Conclusions The following results were obtained in this research: 1. The high arsenic-contaminated zone of groundwater in Samta village agrees well with the drifting zone of groundwater. As the aquifer is more in the state of reduction in the zone, it is considered that arsenic may be released into the groundwater from As-rich Fe oxyhydroxide in the ground. 2. In the rainy season the arsenic levels are overall higher than those in the dry season and some of the tube wells show quick response to rainfall. The local ow of groundwater, therefore, may be considered to ush the arsenic contained in the upper muddy layer into the groundwater. 3. The major causes of arsenic contamination of ponds are the inow of surface drainage from arsenic-contaminated shallow tube wells and the co-precipitation of arsenic with sediment grains in suspension in the pond water. 4. The anaerobic condition at the pond beds is also considered to play a major role in arsenic release from the beds to the water in the pond. 5. It was observed that HRF, an alternative

Number of bacteria group

50 40 30 20 10 0 0 5 10 15

Coliform bacteria General bacteria

20

25

30

35

40

Days
Fig. 7. Decrease of bacteria of PSF in Samta.

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pre-treatment system for SSF, has the ability to decrease the turbidity and the number of bacteria of raw water efciently. 6. The PSF installed in Samta is working very well. PSF No. 2, constructed in February 2000 in an adjacent village, is now supplying good treated water, too.

Acknowledgements This research was performed in cooperation with the Arsenic Prevention Committee of Samta village, Prof. M. Hamidur Rahman, Rajshahi University, Prof. M. Feroze Ahmed, Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology, and the Research Group of Applied Geology, Japan, and funded by the Monbusho International Scientic Research Program (Joint Research) and the Toyota Foundation. References
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Miyazaki University, 1999. Arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh. Interim Report of the Research at Samta Village, Japan, pp. 2038. British Geological Survey and Motto MacDonald Ltd, 1999. Groundwater Studies for Arsenic Contamination in Bangladesh, UK. Chowdhury, T.R., Basu, G.K., Samanta, G., Chanda, C.R., Mandal, B.K., Dhar, R.K., Biswas, B.K., Lodh, D., Ray, S.L., Chakraborti, D., 1998. Borehole sediment analysis, probable source and mechanism of arsenic release to groundwater in affected districts of West Bengal, India. International Conference on Arsenic Pollution of Groundwater in Bangladesh: Causes, Effects and Remedies, Dhaka, Bangladesh, pp. 157 158. Das, D., Basu, G., Chowdhury, T.R., Chakraborti, D., 1995. Borehole soil-sediment analysis of some arsenic affected areas. International Conference on Arsenic in Groundwater: Causes, Effects and Remedy, Calcutta, India. Das, D., Samanta, G., Mandal, B.K., Chowdhury, T.R., Chanda, C.R., Chowdhury, P.P., Basu, G.K., Chakraborti, D., 1996. Environmental Geochemistry and Health 18, 515. Dhar, R.K., Biswas, B.K., Samanta, G., Mandal, B.K., Chakraborti, D., Roy, S., Jafar, A., Isram, A., Ara, G., Kabir, S., Khan, A.W., Ahmad, Sk.A., Hadi, S.A., 1997. Groundwater arsenic calamity in Bangladesh. Current Science 73 (1), 4859. Dunbar, N.W., Chapin, C.E., 1995. Arsenic mobility during geological process: implications for tracing groundwater ow. 2nd International Conference on Arsenic Exposure and Health Effects, Book of Posters. San Diego, CA. Nath, K.J., Adhya, A.K., Majumder, A., 1997. Horizontal roughing lter an appropriate pre-treatment method for upgradation of traditional surface water sources. Bulletin on Ground Water, Technical Bulletin of IWWA, Calcutta Center, pp. 8186. Nickson, R., McArthur, J., Burgess, W., Ahmed, K.M., Ravenscroft, P., Rahman, M., 1998. Arsenic poisoning of Bangladesh groundwater. Nature 35, 395. Nickson, R.T., McArthur, J.M., Ravenscroft, P., Burgess, W.G., Ahmed, K.M., 2000. Mechanism of arsenic release to groundwater, Bangladesh and West Bengal. Applied Geochemistry 15, 403413. Tanabe, K., Akiyoshi, Y., Yokota, H., Hironaka, H., Tsushima, S., Kawahara, K., Khan, A.W., Ahmad, Sk.A., Hadi, Sk.A., 1998. Arsenic concentration of groundwater in Samta village and the applicability of a eld kit by Hironaka to quantify arsenic. International Conference on Arsenic Pollution of Groundwater in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh, pp. 129131. Yokota, H., Tanabe, K., Akiyoshi, Y., Kawahara, K., Hashiguchi, M., Tsushima, S., Khan, A.W., Ahmad, Sk.A., Hadi, Sk.A., 1997. The arsenic pollution of groundwater in Samta, Jessor, Bangladesh. Presented at the Bilateral Consultation between Bangladesh and India on Arsenic in Drinking Water, WHO/SEARO, New Delhi, India.