Remediation and protection of groundwater in peri-urban Kampala
Project leader: Ann-Catrine Norrström (principle supervisor)
Participants: Mai Nalubega MU, Robinah Kulabako MU, Roger Thunvik KTH (Assistant supervisors)
Key words: Groundwater, Peri-urban areas, Drinking water, Toxic metals, Remediation, Protection, Low-cost media
Project period: 2010 – 2014 (PhD student admitted 2011-03-04)
Funding: SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency). The project is a part of “Sustainable Technological Development in the Lake Victoria Region (Uganda)” in subprogram: Environmental Engineering Research and Training program.
In developing countries, informal settlements in peri-urban areas often contain the majority of the population in big cities. These communities tend to be poor and despite the existence of piped water supply infrastructure, it is common to use springs with shallow groundwater as drinking water because it is free of charge.
The lack of sufficient waste disposal facilities in peri-urban areas often leads to wastes being dumped on the ground without control. High concentrations of toxic metals have been reported in the soil in Kampala per-urban areas. These metals will reach the groundwater zone with subsurface flow with time. Moreover, the location of some of the springs may result in inflow of particle-bound metals in surface runoff at high-flow condition. The contaminated land will continue to be a threat to the drinking water resources for a long time. To protect safe drinking water and clean up polluted groundwater are an important issue and one of the UN Millennium development goals.
Mitigation measures in developing countries call for low-cost, simple solutions and one example is the use of waste material as adsorption media. Examples are industry rest products and biomass wastes that have been reported to have high removal capacity for metals. However, despite the significant amount of studies of these materials in research literature, the adsorption capacities are usually drawn from batch experiments with single metal synthetic solutions. The removal mechanisms of the materials are undisputed – it is the quantitative extent to which they can perform in the field compared to conventional materials that is unclear.
Aim and content of the project
The aim of the project is to develop simple, low-cost solutions to protect the drinking water and remove toxic metals from contaminated groundwater using local waste materials as adsorption filters.
Several local sorption materials will be tested for their removal capacity in batch studies as a screening. The most promising media´s will be selected for further studies on their efficiency and behaviour at realistic conditions with column experiments. Soil in the near-spring areas, surface runoff and spring water will be sampled at low and high flow conditions for measurements of metals and other relevant parameters. At the end of the project period a minor pilot project is planned which will be carried out in one peri-urban area. Appropriate recommendations will be made with the certification from the pilot project to the authorities in order to improve the water quality of the shallow groundwater used for domestic consumption.
The project is a part of the bilateral research collaboration between KTH and Makerere University (MU) in Kampala.
Previous publications in the subject
(not in this project)
Somerville, R, Norrström AC, 2009. Removal of toxic metals from contaminated water with natural material as filters. Water Science and Technology 60: 935-942
Norrström, AC and Somerville, R., 2009. Low-cost adsorption media for removal of toxic metals from contaminated water. Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta73: A953-A953.