RAINWATER HARVESTING FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION – A REVIEW OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES
Authors: *Mohammed I.U, Abdullahi A.M, Muhammad M.M
Rainwater is relatively free from impurities (except those picked up by rain from the atmosphere), but the quality of rainwater may deteriorate during harvesting, storage and household use and often does not meet World Health Organization (WHO) guideline standards for drinking water particularly the microbiological quality. Dirt aided by wind, leaves, faecal droppings from flying and landing birds and insects, animals and contaminated litter, brought to the catchment areas also accumulates to form sources of contamination of rainwater. Poor hygiene in storing and in abstracting water from tanks or at the point of use can also pose a health concern. More so, the microbial contamination of collected rainwater indicated by Escherichia coli is quite common in samples collected shortly after rainfall. Pathogens such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Campylobacter, Vibrio, Salmonella, Shigella and Pseudomonas have also been detected in rainwater. Also, rainwater is slightly acidic and very low in dissolved minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and fluoride considered essential in appropriate concentrations for health and this means that rainwater has a specific taste that may not be acceptable to people used to drinking other mineral-rich natural waters. It can dissolve heavy metals and other impurities from materials of the catchment and storage tank. This paper reviews some of these occasional rainwater related diseases previously detected and other potential health risks and recommends possible ways of managing and maintaining standards of rainwater quality from collection, storage and final consumption.
Affiliations: *Department of Water Resources and Environmental Management, National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna, Nigeria
Keywords: Rainwater Harvesting, Microbiological Quality, Public Health, Human Consumption, First Flush, Roof Catchment
Published date: 2018/06/30