Wastewater use in India: the impact of irrigation weirs on water quality and farmer health

Water quality in the wastewater polluted Musi River, India was assessed in a 14 month survey, while the impact of exposure to polluted river water was assessed in an epidemiological study. The water quality survey found very high intestinal nematode and BOD concentrations in Musi water in the city of Hyderabad. Water quality improved dramatically downstream of the city as a result of irrigation weirs that were placed on the river and which promoted sedimentation. River water, at two of the selected sample points, was found to be unfit for use in agriculture based on WHO guidelines. Hookworm infection was found to be the main health risk associated with the use of polluted Musi water and a significantly increased risk of infection was found in farmers using untreated wastewater. In the absence of wastewater treatment facilities, regular anthelmintic treatment programs are recommended to protect farmer health.