Deep tubewell microbial water quality and access in arsenic mitigation programs in rural Bangladesh
The objective of this paper is to determine whether deep tubewells installed through arsenic mitigation efforts in rural Bangladesh provide better drinking water microbial quality compared to shallow tubewells. We conducted a stratified random cross-sectional survey of 484 households to assess microbial contamination of deep tubewell water at source and at point of use (POU) compared to shallow tubewell water using the Compartment Bag Test. In addition, we measured storage time, distance,
... me, distance, travel time and ownership status among both sets of users to assess deep tubewell efficacy and under what conditions they offer poorer or better water quality. Differences in tubewell characteristics were compared using non-parametric Mann-Whitney U tests and two-proportion Z-tests. Prevalence ratios of microbial contamination stratified by water quality, storage time and distance to tubewells and ownership were estimated using unadjusted Mantel-Haenszel tests. There was no significant difference in microbial contamination between shallow and deep tubewells at source. The presence of POU water microbial contamination in storage containers in deep tubewell households was 1.11 times the prevalence in shallow tubewell storage containers (95% CI = 0.97–1.27). Deep tubewell users stored water longer and walked significantly farther to obtain water compared to shallow tubewell users. Among deep tubewell households, those residing farther away from the source were 1.24 times as likely to drink contaminated water from storage containers compared to those located nearby (95% CI = 1.04–1.48). Our findings suggest that deep tubewells have comparable water quality to shallow tubewells at source, but increasing distance from the household exacerbates risk of microbial contamination at POU.