Analytical Laboratories under Ground Water Department
 

 

The water quality laboratory under ground water department was established in late 70s.  With the demand and utilization of ground water, the need for water quality monitoring also became inevitable.  As a part of the National Hydrology Project, the Analytical Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram was upgraded to level II+ with two Regional Laboratories (level II) at Ernakulam and Kozhikkode.  Now the laboratories are equipped with all the instruments mentioned for corresponding levels and the parameters tested are also as per the standards designated to the said levels. 

Analytical Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram is headed by Smt. J. Vasanthakumari, Chief Chemist

Regional Laboratories (level II) at Ernakulam is headed by Smt. K.N. Sumangala Executive Chemist

Regional Laboratories (level II) at Kozhikkode is headed by Sri.Thomas Steephan,Executive Chemist in charge

Activities:

  • With the aim to give analytical support of water quality progress in the State, the laboratories are conducting baseline monitoring of observation wells and piezometer wells constructed by the department all over the state.
  • The laboratories are also providing reasonably priced analyses in support of research projects conducted by students and other research organizations.
  • In addition analysis of single sample from private firms/individuals for drinking water supply are also being carried out on payment basis.

Analytical Capabilities:

The analyses cover physical, chemical and biological interpretation of water.

The following physico-chemical analyses are being performed on a routine basis.  pH, electrical conductivity, Total dissolved solids, total alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, carbonate, bicarbonate, sulphate, chloride, silica, fluoride, nitrate etc.  In addition to this, the laboratory at Thiruvananthapuram is capable of analyzing heavy metals like lead, cadmium, zinc, copper etc and also BOD, COD and DO.  Bacteriological analysis (Total and faecal coliform) is being carried out on demand.  The density of bacteria is calculated on the basis of positive and negative combination of tubes using MPN tables.

Analytical instrumentation:

The laboratory is equipped with instruments like UV-VIS Spectrophotometer, Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer, Gas Chromatograph, Total Organic Carbon Analyser, BOD incubator, Bacteriological incubator, laminar flow, pH meter, conductivity meter etc. 

To help with the above instrumentation, the laboratory contains balances, water distillation and deionisation units and facilities for ultra pure water for preparation of reagents and standards.

Standards followed:

Depending n the impact of concentration of various ions in water or human health and plants, various standards have been laid down by different agencies.  These standards are useful for deciding the suitability of water for drinking and irrigation purposes.  For the analysis being carried out in our water quality laboratories the standards approved by Bureau of India Standards (BIS 10500-91) for drinking water is followed.  They specify the following limits for different parameters.  The Physical, Chemical and Bacteriological quality of water should not exceed the limits shown in the table below:

Parameter

Desirable limit

Maximum permissible limit

pH

6.5-8.5

6.5-8.5

Electrical conductivity (µmhos/cm)

 -

 -

Total dissolved solids (mg/L)

500

2000

Turbidity (NTU)

5

10

Total hardness (mg CaCO3/L)

300

600

Calcium (mg/L)

75

200

Magnesium (mg/L)

30

100

Sodium (mg/L)

 -

 -

Potassium (mg/L)

 -

 -

Carbonate (mg/L)

 -

 -

Bicarbonate (mg/L)

 -

 -

Total alkalinity (mg CaCO3/L)

200

600

Sulphate (mg/L)

200

400

Chloride (mg/L)

250

1000

Fluoride (mg/L)

1

1.5

Iron (mg/L)

0.3

1

Nitrate-N (mg/L)

10

 -

Silica (mg/L)

-

-

Phosphate (mg/L)

-

-

Lead (mg/L)

0.05

0.05

Cadmium (mg/L)

0.01

0.01

Zinc (mg/L)

5

15

Copper (mg/L)

0.05

1.5

Total coliform

NIL

NIL

Faecal coliform

NIL

NIL

Data dissemination:

Fully useful data for dissemination are generated using available softwares like Groundwater Estimation and Management Systems and Ground Water Data Entry System and is available on demand to different organizations on charges/fee prescribed by the Government.

Past clients:

Following are a few of organizations/institutions who approached the laboratory for water quality analysis/data.

  • KINFRA International Apparel Park, Thumba
  • McDowell, Cherthala
  • Kerala Water Authority
  • Airport Authority of India
  • Government Secertariate
  • KIMS Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Somatheram tourist resort
  • Cocacola factory, Palakkad
  • GREENS, AGES (NGOs)
  • TKM Engineering College, Kollam
  • University College, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Ministry of Environment and Forest, Bangalore

Overview of works:

Ground water contamination denotes basically chemical and bacteriological pollution to a degree that inhibits the use of water or that creates an actual hazard to public health through poisoning or the spread of diseases.

Numerous activities including industrial production, agriculture, sewage discharge, urbanization, commercial and residential activates contaminate groundwater sources.  The domestic sewage composed of faecal waste, kitchen, laundry waste are the major sources of pollution for the household wells.  

Physico-chemical contamination:

Fluoride problems:

The concentration of fluoride in drinking water is critical considering health problems related to teeth and bones.  High fluoride concentration causes dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis whereas the absence or low concentration of fluoride in drinking water results in dental caries in children particularly when the fluoride concentration is less than 0.5 mg/L.  In India fluoridation is not needed since we are getting sufficient fluorides from other food items. The recommended desirable limit of fluoride in 1 mg/L.

From June 1999 onwards constant monitoring were conducted for fluoride concentration in the KWA and other tube wells developed in Alappuzha district.  Most of the KWA wells are located in the Warkali aquifer.  As compared to the 1995-96 values there is an increasing trend in the fluoride concentration as compared to other tube wells.  This is due to over pumping. 

A slight decrease in fluoride concentration is observed after the monsoon period.  This is due to the dilution effect of the monsoon.  But this is not true for the over exploited wells in the municipal area.  It is also noted that in the fluoride prone areas as the depth increases the fluoride concentration also increases.

Higher values of fluoride are also observed in some pockets of Palakkad district mainly in Chittoor, Kollengode, Palakkad and Malampuzha areas.

 

Iron problems:

  • The acceptable limit of iron is 0.3 mg/L and the desirable limit is 1 mg/L.  Beyond these limits, taste and appearance are affected.  It has adverse effects on domestic uses like staining of plumbing and fixtures, oily appearance on top of water body, deposits on boiling, coloration to the food prepared, promoting iron bacteria etc.  Iron values are seen above acceptable limit in many of the wells overall the state.
  • On Public interest in Kallelibhagam, Karunagappaly in Kollam District the department made an investigation on the problems related to water quality.  The main complaint of the public was the brown colouration of the well water.  13 water samples were collected and analysed.  The study revealed that almost all the wells were contaminated with iron.  Value has gone even to 14.6 mg/L.

Acidity problems:

Acidity is mainly due to lower pH values.  The acceptable limit of pH value is between 6.5 to 8.5.  When the value is below 6.5, water is said to be acidic.  Beyond this range, the water will affect the mucous membrane and water supply systems.

As the local people near Venjarammood, Thiruvananthapuram reported burning of eyes and itching and requested investigation, samples were collected from open wells in and around the area and on analysis it has been observed that all the samples were acidic.  And the fluoride content also exceeds the BIS permissible limit of 1 mg/L.

Water hardness:

  • Desirable limit of hardness is 300 mg/L.  Higher values are problematic in the sense that it produces encrustation in water supply structures; in the domestic use it affects lathering of detergents.  Higher values are noted mainly in Alappuzha and Palakkad areas and in certain areas of Ernakulam, and Thrissur.
  • As part of the project influence of water consumed and calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis water analysis was conducted for department of Surgery, Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram.  The study at first phase was aimed at finding out whether magnesium, sodium, calcium, potassium and hardness of drinking water consumed during 24-hour urine collection alter the biochemical values of urine oxalate.  Drinking water from patients routine water source was brought for analysis.  From the study it is reported that the total hardness and potassium show an increasing trend in oxalate stone formation as compared to the individual influence of sodium, calcium and magnesium.

Bacteriological Contamination:

Varieties of water borne diseases are attributed to untreated or inadequately treated ground water containing pathogenic forms of bacteria.  Biological contamination of ground water may occur when human or animal waste enters an aquifer.  Standard test to determine the safety of ground water for drinking purposes involves identifying whether or not bacteria belonging to coliform group are present.  The recent faecal pollution of water sources are indicated by the presence of coliform bacteria viz., Escherichia coli.  The result of coliform test is reported in terms of Most Probabale Number (MPN/100 ml) of coliform group of organism present in a given volume of water.  The count must not be dectatable in any 100 ml sample.

  • From the public water sample are being analysed regularly.  About 70% of the wells of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam are contaminated with coliform.
  • The Vilappilsala garbage factory went into a controversy when the local people explained grave doubts about environmental impact o the plant in that area.  They allege that the effluents from the factory are seeping into the wells and there was a public demand for quality analysis of water.  Under these circumstances, water samples were collected from the open wells near the factory and analysed for chemical and bacteriological parameters.  Study showed the presence of coliform bacteria in wells around the factory and it is suspected due to leaching from the waste dumped.
  • The most sacred river in Kerala, Pamba river flowing through Sabarimala is polluted during the festive season of November-December period every year.  Lakhs of devotees from all over the country specifically from Southern States of India throng the very auspicious temple of Lord Ayyappa, situated in Sabarimala during this 45-day period.  Samples were collected from the open wells bordering certain areas of the Pamba River, immediately after the festive season of November-December 2002.  On analysis presence of coliform bacteria has been established in al the samples.  This very clearly establishes the pollution of ground water aquifers by surface water pollution and in such areas one cannot go unscathed even if open well water is used.
  • In association with GREENS, an NGO a study was conducted on deterioration of quality of Karamana River, the main source of municipal water supply for the city of Thiruvananthapuram.  Human activities are polluting the river in many ways; sand mining, brick making, waste disposal, sewage disposal etc are some of them.  The study concluded that parameters like conductivity, total hardness, chloride etc are increasing towards the river mouth and all the samples were highly affected with faecal coliform.

Fee details for analysis: G.O (Rt) No:268/2002/W R D dated 16/4/02

1) For Domestic purposes:

General parameters:            Rs.200/- per sample 

Additional levy: Rs. 100 per each additional parameter

2) For Industrial purpose:

General parameters:            Rs.500/- per sample

Additional levy:            Rs. 100 per each additional parameter

3)Dataset free of cost for teaching institutions,Universities and Research & Development purposes

General parameters include pH, electrical conductivity, Total dissolved solids, total alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, carbonate, bicarbonate, sulphate, chloride, silica, and nitrate.

Contact Details:

Thiruvananthapuram:

Analytical Laboratory, Level II+

Ground Water Department

I Floor, Jalajinana Bhavan

Kowdiar PO

Thiruvananthapuram 695 003

Phone: 0471-2437653

Ernakulam:

Regional Analytical Laboratory, Level II

Ground Water Department

Civil Station, Kakkanad

Ernakulam

Phone: 0484-2426331

Kozhikkode:

Regional Analytical Laboratory, Level II

Ground Water Department

Civil Station, Kozhikkode

Phone: 0495-2370016