Although clean water technically means that which is not turbid or colored and is free of suspended solids, it does not necessarily mean it’s safe for drinking. That is because pathogens present are not visible to naked eye.
According to the Bhutan Drinking Water Quality standard (BDWQS) water that is free of pathogens and has low concentration of harmful chemicals is safe for consumption.
Of 5,740 samples that were tested for thermo tolerant coliform only 44.3% were found to be safe for human consumption as per the 2016 report of annual Royal Center for Disease Control (RCDC).
To comply with government policies, legislation and rules according to the water Act of Bhutan 2011, water regulation of Bhutan 2014 and Bhutan Drinking Water Quality Standard 2016, The Ministry of Health (MoH) has been mandated to monitor drinking water quality in urban and rural areas, which the RCDC has been coordinating. The act has also authorized MoH to maintain and periodically update records of physical, chemical and biological findings with respect to drinking water at the consumer level.
The RCDC is carrying out the water quality surveillance system for the Urban Drinking water Quality Monitoring System (UDWQMS) and the Rural Drinking Water Quality Monitoring System (RDWQMS). Urban drinking water surveillance is don every month by district laboratories from 34 RCDC reporting centers including hospitals and BHUs. The test considerations include physical, microbiological and chemical parameters, said the Laboratory Officer, Pema Chophel.
Testing for rural drinking water is carried out by Hospitals and BHUs on bi-annually from February till March and from July till August. The test parameter includes only physical and microbiological considerations.
The RCDC has recommended MoH intensify water quality monitoring to ensure compliance by water service providers.
Pema Chophel said the roles and responsibilities should be understood and implemented by the dzongkhag, gewog thromde, MoWHS, dzongkhag Hospitals and BHUs. “Bhutan is blessed with abundant fresh water, let’s work together to ensure every citizen has access to safe drinking water,” he said.