Potentiality of brown sand aquifers as safe drinking water source in arsenic affected region of West Bengal, India
Project Leader(s): Prosun Bhattacharya,(PhD Student)
Participants: Prof. (Em.). Gunnar Jacks (KTH, Sweden); Prof. Debashis Chatterjee (University of Kalyani, India); Prof. Kazi Matin Ahmed (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh); Dr. Abhijit Mukherjee (IIT-Kharagpur, India); Dr. Bibhash Nath (The University of Sydney, Australia).
Keywords: Bengal Basin, Groundwater, Aresnic, Manganese, Sustainable Drinking Water Supply
Project period: 2010 - 1013
Funding: Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Window (EMECW-Action II), EURINDIA Program of European Union
Worldwide occurrence of dissolved arsenic in groundwater of the sedimentary aquifers is one of the biggest threats to human health. The problem is most severe in Southeast Asia, particularly in Bengal Basin (Bangladesh and adjoining part of the West Bengal, India). After first reporting of the arsenic in groundwater, significant research has been carried out. Several mitigation measures, such as tube well switching, installation of arsenic adsorbing filtering unit, sand filter, supply of treated surface water etc. have been implemented for the supply of safe drinking water for the affected population. But most of these options are not working properly because of various reasons such as technology, capital and maintenance cost, social acceptance. Recently, installation of tube wells in deep aquifers has become popular for safe drinking water supply, since deep aquifers are mostly arsenic safe. However, installation of tube wells in the deep aquifers is very costly, because it needs special drilling technology, which is not available in the local market. As a result people living in the rural villages cannot afford such deep tube wells installation privately; instead they have to depend on the community deep tube wells, which are few in numbers. Consequently millions of people living in the rural villages still have no options except to drink arsenic contaminated water. Thus to prioritise arsenic mitigation management and meet United Nations Millennium development goals of halving the proportion of population having no access to sustainable safe drinking water worldwide within 2015 (Target 7 C), it is necessary to identify the safe aquifer(s) within shallow depth. These aquifers can be targeted by locally available drilling technology, so that people themselves can install their own safe tube wells for drinking purposes.
This PhD project attempts to assess the potentiality of brown sand aquifers as safe drinking water source within shallow depth. The specific objectives are identification and hydrogeochemical characterization of brown sand aquifers as well as delineation of its regional distribution and long term sustainability to provide safe drinking water in arsenic affected region of West Bengal, India.