Monitoring and Modelling of Salinity Behaviour in Drinking Water Ponds in Southern Bangladesh

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Mohammad A Hoque1, Alexander Williams2, A. K. M. Moshiur Rahman3, Kazi Matin Ahmed3, Pauline F. D. Scheelbeek4, Paolo Vineis4 and Adrian P Butler2, (1)Imperial College London, London, SW7, United Kingdom, (2)Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom, (3)University of Dhaka, Department of Geology, Dhaka, Bangladesh, (4)Imperial College London, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, London, United Kingdom
Drinking water in southern Bangladesh is provided by a variety of sources including constructed storage ponds, seasonal rainwater and, ubiquitously saline, shallow groundwater. The ponds, the communal reservoirs for harvested rainwater, also tend to be saline, some as high as 2 g/l. Drinking water salinity has several health impacts including high blood pressure associated major risk factor for several cardio-vascular diseases. Two representative drinking water ponds in Dacope Upazila of Khulna District in southwest Bangladesh were monitored over two years for rainfall, evaporation, pond and groundwater level, abstraction, and solute concentration, to better understand the controls on drinking water salinity. Water level monitoring at both ponds shows groundwater levels predominantly below the pond level throughout the year implying a downward gradient. The grain size analysis of the underlying sediments gives an estimated hydraulic conductivity of 3E-8 m/s allowing limited seepage loss. Water balance modelling indicates that the seepage has a relatively minor effect on the pond level and that the bulk of the losses come from the combination of evaporation and abstraction particularly in dry season when precipitation, the only inflow to the pond, is close to zero. Seasonal variation in salinity (electrical conductivities, EC, ranged between 1500 to 3000 µS/cm) has been observed, and are primarily due to dilution from rainfall and concentration from evaporation, except on one occasion when EC reached 16,000 µS/cm due to a breach in the pond levee. This event was analogous to the episodic inundation that occurs from tropical cyclone storm surges and appears to indicate that such events are important for explaining the widespread salinisation of surface water and shallow groundwater bodies in coastal areas. A variety of adaptations (either from practical protection measures) or novel alternative drinking sources (such as aquifer storage and recovery) can be applied in order to reduce health risks.