Government mulls water testing labs in higher secondary schools 

The CWRDM in Kozhikode has prepared a report on the proposal

KOZHIKODE: The spread of waterborne diseases in Kerala after the onset of monsoon has once again exposed the serious health hazards posed by water contamination. There are thousands of laboratories offering blood test facilities across the state but, for water, there are hardly any takers.
Concerned over the lack of facilities to test water quality, the government is planning to equip all higher secondary schools in the state with water quality testing laboratories. The Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM), Kozhikode has prepared a report on a proposal to provide water quality testing facility at higher secondary schools. The report will be submitted to the government this week. 

In Kerala, water quality testing facility is available only at the three analytical laboratories in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode under the Ground Water Department. Apart from this, the Kerala Water Authority has provided laboratories in all district headquarters. According to CWRDM principal scientist Harikumar P S the analytical labs of the Ground Water Department are witnessing heavy rush for water quality testing. “In rural areas there is no facility available to check the quality of water,” he said.

In view of the lack of facility, the government is exploring the possibility of providing water testing facility at higher secondary schools, which have chemistry and biology laboratories. The labs in the schools will help create awareness about the need for water conservation and to protect water resources from pollution.  The CWRDM will impart training to the teachers and under the supervision of the trained teachers, students will analyse the quality of water in the region. People can approach the schools to test water samples. 

The labs will check the physico-chemical and biological contamination of water. All the 14 essential parameters like pH, turbidity, presence of various elements such as calcium, magnesium and metals such as zinc, copper and lead will analysed in the school labs. Harikumar said minor variations are possible according to the needs of local people. For example, presence of fluoride is more in the water available in districts like Palakkad and Alappuzha. So, the schools in these districts will have the facility to check fluoride content in the water samples.  In the first phase of the project, at least one school located in the suburbs of the district headquarters will get water testing labs. If the schools have buildings, they can set up water testing labs spending `4-5 lakh, said Hari Kumar.  Kerala State Science and Technology Council has been setting up science labs in the schools across the state under the Sastra Poshini project. The CWRDM is considering a proposal to provide water quality testing facility in these labs. 

The analytical laboratories of the Ground Water Department charge `200 for checking the general parameters and `100 for each additional parameter for water samples used for domestic purposes. For industrial purpose the department charges `500 and `100 respectively. Schools can collect fees to meet the expenses, said Harikumar. Water Resources Minister Mathew T Thomas had discussed the need to establish water testing labs in schools with CWRDM scientists, during an interaction last week.

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