Drinking water quality in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley: A survey and assessment of selected controlling site characteristics

Nathaniel R. Warner, Jonathan Levy, Karen Harpp, Frank Farruggia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Water was sampled from over 100 sources in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley, including municipal taps, dug wells, shallow-aquifer tube wells, deep-aquifer tube wells, and dhunge dharas (or stone spouts, public water sources that capture groundwater or surface water). Information was gathered on user preference and site and well characteristics, and water was examined for indicators of contamination from sewage, agriculture, or industry. Most problematic were total coliform and Escherichia coli bacteria, which were present in 94 and 72% of all the water samples, respectively. Contamination by nitrate, ammonia and heavy metals was more limited; nitrate and ammonia exceeded Nepali guidelines in 11 and 45% of the samples, respectively. Arsenic and mercury exceeded WHO guidelines in 7 and 10% of the samples, respectively, but arsenic never exceeded the less strict Nepali guideline. Significant differences existed in contamination levels between types of sources; dug wells and dhunge dharas, being the shallowest, were the most contaminated by bacteria and nitrate; deep-aquifer tube wells were the most contaminated by arsenic. Whereas E. coli concentrations decreased with depth, iron and ammonia concentrations increased with depth. These relationships account for people choosing to drink water with higher levels of bacterial contamination based on its superior (non-metallic) taste and appearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-334
Number of pages14
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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