Relationship between water quality and physical conditions of domestic storage tanks supplied by a water utility in a rapidly growing city
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Domestic water storage tanks are commonly used in urban centres of developing countries such as Uganda to enable reliable access to water. However, little work has been done on the conditions of domestic water storage tanks since it is assumed that water received meets the required standards and guidelines for drinking water. In 2015, over 80% of the water quality complaints raised by water utility customers in Kampala were about water from storage tanks. In this study we assessed water quality in, and conditions of, domestic storage tanks, for customers supplied by a water utility from March – August 2017 in Kampala, Uganda. Longitudinal assessment of 372 storage tanks in 6 sampled wards involved a minimum of 6 samples collected from each site in both wet and dry months of 2017. A set of guiding questions was used to establish tank conditions, with a 'yes' or 'no' response and a range of 'low' to 'critical' risk ratings. The study showed that there were three main types of storage tanks: plastic (88%), concrete (7%), and metal (5%). Of these tanks, 84% were elevated, 41% were less than 5 years old, 69% were not cleaned annually, and 88% were covered. There was a statistically significant relationship (p < 0.05) between tank physical conditions and quality of stored water. Wards with unplanned and industrial settlements had the highest number of tanks with contaminated water. The study therefore revealed that the physical conditions and management of domestic water storage tanks have an effect on water quality. This is important information for a water utility as it means that it is not enough to supply safe water if the quality may deteriorate upon storage at the consumer premises. A routine inspection checklist and consumer guidelines for domestic storage tank management are proposed.