Drinking Water Quality Guidelines for Sudan

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Background. Adoption and enforcement of standards and regulations for drinking water quality is of paramount importance to the water sector in Sudan.

Reflections on Drinking Water Quality Guidelines for the Sudan1 By Isam Mohammed Abdel-Magid2 and Bashir M. ElHassan3. Background Adoption and enforcement of standards and regulations for drinking water quality is of paramount importance to the water sector in Sudan. The benefits gained are unaccountable. Therefore, any efforts towards the formulation and implementation of such a valuable tool should be encouraged by all concerned. The adopted national standards for The Sudan need to address the following peculiarities: • The varying climatic conditions within the Sudan, • The culture and habits in the different regions of the country, • The type of diet and available water, • Socio-economic status, • Beliefs, taboos and local traditions, • Reliability and availability of the required quantities of water (majority of inhabited area in Sudan is non-riverain), • Availability of efficient and properly operated treatment plants ...etc Since the above mentioned points are difficult to satisfy for the whole Sudan through one standard, adoption of guidelines rather than standards is therefore the realistic approach. The adopted guidelines need to be translated into local standards in different regions whenever applicable, bearing in mind that flexibility should prevail and also the ever changing socioeconomic parameters. Shortages of water along with economic, technological and political constraints have compelled water authorities to sacrifice water quality against quantity in so many places in the Sudan; since the problem is of quantity. Quite a number of towns of the country are bound to face a gloomy future if the current trend of drought continues. Examples of these are reflected in towns of Northern Kordofan and Darfour regions. The upgrading of the quality of the treated water to that recommended by the adopted standards, in many situations, does not mean the satisfaction of the consumer as deemed necessary. Hence, the fate of treated water after leaving any authorized water processing facility should be seriously reconsidered. Generally, water in Sudan is greatly misused with consequent deterioration through any or all of the following:  System used for water distribution and metering (It should be noted that more than 80% of the installed meters are not functioning. Therefore, a flat rate has been assumed, amounting to 5 Sudanese pounds/ plot/month. This is unfair to consumers in squatter and shanty areas; since water is bought there from contractors according to an actual meter reading. Having in mind the greater differences in per capita income and actual water consumption, the degree of deprivation is clear. This unfairness would continue if this system of charging is to prevail. Not only that but water purchased in squatter areas, through contractors and vendors, is inferior in quality when compared to that available in high-class areas.) 1

Presented at a Seminar on Drinking Water Quality Standards, Khartoum, Sudan, March 8-13 1986, and published in the Water International J., 12 (1987), pp 33-35 2 Department of Civil Engineering 3

School of Hygiene, University of Khartoum, P. O. Box 321, Khartoum, Sudan 1

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Water vendors, sellers and contractors, Water collection systems and methods, Water storage facilities at homes (zeers, roof-storage tanks, girbas, barrels.... etc) Lack of awareness with respect to hazards associated with polluted and contaminated water, • Traditions regarding water handling, • Belief and social values, • Tariffs and charging systems adopted for consumers...etc. To be able to implement, evaluate and follow up any adopted standards, ways and means for proper surveillance should be secured. This includes the following: • Efficient transport, • Optimum required number of trained staff, • Continuous flow of laboratory supplies and equipment, • Proper supervision. Unfortunately, what is asked for is currently lacking. Nevertheless, what has been achieved nowadays is more than that is anticipated, bearing in mind the constraints and problems. Thus what is reflected is due to mere devotion and dedication. Recommendations: The adoption and implementation of standards need to be preceded by certain activities such as:  Evaluation of the current status of water resources.  Registration of the different pollution-producing sectors with a nationally formed body (The National Environmental Council),  Identification of pollution producing bodies and characterization of pollution streams emanating from each contributor,  Advice on adoption of appropriate pretreatment or treatment methodologies,  Securing of well equipped national and regional reference laboratories,  Training of relevant personnel to satisfy needed demand,  Community education. The enforcement of the law is the key factor for the adoption of these standards and regulations, likewise, the regular surveillance of performance and efficiency. The formulated National Environmental Council should act as a focal point at the national and international levels. One of the major responsibilities of the National Environmental Council is the coordination between authorities, donors, institutions and the like (Fig. 2). This coordination is the yardstick to the success of programs and the adopted standards. Bibliography 1. International standards for drinking water, 3rd Edi., World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 1972. 2. Guidelines for drinking water, World Health Organization, vol. 1,2 and 3,Geneva, Switzerland, 1984. 3. National interim primary drinking water regulations, US Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Register, Washington, DC, 1975. 4. Quality goals for potable water, J. American Water Works Association,, 60 (12), 1968.


Survey of potential existing water sources (Quantity & Quality)


Data Bank not agreeable Investigated possibility of treatment

Resort to another source

Adopted guidelines



not possible

Monitoring, Evaluation, Coordination, Research

possible & affordable


Figure 1. Sources selection in agreement with guidelines