Mitigating Conflict by Exploring the Multifunctionality of Drinking Water Sources in Nepal

Sunday, February 14, 2016
Emily Hayes, Ball State Universtiy, Muncie, IN
Nepal is a country in a state of post-conflict political unrest. The current status of Nepal can be attributed to a decade-long armed conflict (1996-2006), the forging of a new democratic constitution (2015), and the impact of a devastating earthquake (April 2015). These issues have resulted in conflicts regarding environmental cooperation, a skewed governance distribution amongst caste systems, and poor management of natural resources. Identifying common drinking water contaminants by assessing the overall drinking water quality in the SNP was the main objective of this study. The second objective of this study was to review the current and environmental policy standards in the SNP, comparing them to international water quality standards and identifying any improvements to policy based on the research conducted. Understanding the current governance of the SNP and the effects of eco-tourism on the region was important in fulfilling this objective. The final objective of this study was to create a comprehensive map of water quality for the SNP region. These three objectives are necessary for providing essential accurate water quality information to the residents of the SNP and the scientific community. Temperature, pH, conductivity and total dissolved solids (TDS) were measured in the field using standard Hach® surface water testing kit. Analysis of faecal coliform in surface and drinking water followed standard EPA approved methods. Bacterial analysis was conducted by using the membrane filtration method. Drinking water within the study area meets current World Health Organization drinking water standards for temperature (2.8°C - 13°C), pH (5.27 - 7.24), conductivity (17.87 mS - 133 mS) and TDS (7.24 ppm - 65.5 ppm). A total 41 samples were collected for this study: 5 were analysed for bacteria in May and all tested positive for E. coli; 5 of the 36 samples analysed in November also tested positive for E. coli. Samples collected and analysed in May (pre-monsoon summer) had a higher level of E. coli and coliform bacteria than samples collected in November (post-monsoon early winter) suggesting a seasonal dependence. Samples from the more populated, lower altitude, areas had higher levels of E. coli. This study clearly indicates that there is a significant presence of bacterial indicators of faecal pollution in surface waters. The data revealed a predictable correlation between bacterial contamination and population. This correlation suggests that human impact plays a major role in bacterial contamination. Consequently, the proper balance of tourism and natural resource management strategies must be a priority as increasing tourist numbers will result in poorer drinking water conditions in the SNP. Further work will be completed to determine the extent of this change in governance as well as the influence of contaminated surface water on the shallow groundwater drinking sources. The importance of proper water resource management is likely to increase with current global warming trends.