The city's water woes just does not seem to end. The Janaagraha Ward Quality Index survey declared this year that only 28 per cent of the city's water is potable. A private survey released recently too claims that 90 per cent of the diseases in the city are caused due to contaminated water.
According to S Vishwanath, advisor, Biome Trust, one has to be water literate, which would include knowing the sources, ensuring clean storage, being aware of the possible contaminants - bacteria, nitrates and fluorides - testing for them and following it up with treatment. However he adds, "The likelihood of the presence of nitrates and fluorides in water supplied by the Bangalore Water and Sewerage Supply Board (BWSSB) is low."
Owing to the water table depleting, chief scientific officer, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), Dr B R Balagangadhar recommends a quarterly test of borewell water.
"If the rains are good and the water level rises during the monsoon, then the level of the minerals that one generally tests for, gets diluted. So there is often a seasonal variation in the parameters that we test for and BWSSB labs will do it for you at a nominal cost."
Holding out that the Cauvery water supply is 'extremely safe', Balagangadhar suggests the same procedure should be undertaken for those who are supplied with water by the BWSSB.
"Sometimes there are impurities in the storage tanks and pipelines, which could lead to bacterial growth," he says.
Although both experts swear by rainwater as the best source of water, Vishwanath adds that this too should be tested for bacteria.
Those who want to get water samples tested can take them to either of the two government labs: Public Health Laboratory, Public Health Department, Sheshadri Road; or Department of Mines and Geology (Laboratory), Khanija Bhavan, Race Course Road.
A list of private laboratories that have been authorised by the KSPCB are also available on the website www.kspcb.gov.in.
According to most experts, for Cauvery water, the chemical parameters test, which comprises 14 parameters - PH, colour, odour, turbidity (cloudiness or haziness), total dissolved solids (TDS), hardness, calcium, magnesium, sulphate, fluoride, nitrate, dissolved oxygen, chloride and iron - and the microbiology lab test to detect the presence of coli-form will suffice. Whereas for borewell water, in addition to the above tests, you also need to test for heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, zinc, manganese, copper and sodium. As the type of test varies depending on the source of water, Balagangadhar also advises citizens to approach an authorised laboratory to supervise and conduct the test the first time, starting from sample collection. "The procedure is a little complicated, so it's best to get familiarised first."