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Rapid drinking water safety estimation in cities: Piloting a globally scalable method in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Sci Total Environ; 654: 1132-1145, 2019 Mar 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30841388


Systematically collected and comparable data on drinking water safety at city-scale is currently unavailable, despite the stated importance of water safety monitoring at scale under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We developed a rapid drinking water quality assessment methodology intended to be replicable across all cities and useful for monitoring towards achieving SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation).


We collected drinking water samples at the point-of-consumption for basic microbial, physical and chemical water quality analysis and conducted household surveys on drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene access from 80 households in the city of Cochabamba over 1 week. We categorized the household's water service level according to the SDG 6 framework.


We estimated an average time requirement of 6.4 person-hours and a consumable cost of US $51 per household (n = 80). In this cross-sectional study, 71% of drinking water samples met World Health Organization (WHO) microbiological safety criteria, 96% met WHO chemical quality criteria, and all met WHO aesthetic quality criteria. However, only 18% of the households were categorized as having safely managed drinking water services. None met the criteria for having safely managed sanitation services; nonetheless, 81% had basic sanitation services and 78% had basic hygiene facilities.


This method can generate basic water safety data for a city at a relatively low cost in terms of person-time and materials, yielding useful information for inter-city analyses. Because 29% of samples did not meet microbiological safety criteria, 22% of the households did not have access to handwashing facilities and none had safe sanitation services, we concluded that Cochabamba did not meet normative SDG 6 targets when surveyed. Our study further suggests that water quality at point-of-use more accurately characterizes drinking water safety than infrastructure type.