Development of Water Quality Map of Uttarakhand

Rajendra Dobhal, Prashant Singh, S.P. Mittal, D.P. Uniyal, Bhavtosh Sharma, Rakesh Singh, Shweta Tyagi
Bhujal News Quarterly Journal, Jan-Dec, 2012


It is essential to know the quality of water before its consumption for human and agricultural and industrial uses. A number of Central and State government agencies are working in water sector in Uttarakhand and joint efforts are being made to prepare water quality map of the State. Uttarakhand State Council for Science and Technology (UCOST), Dehradun; DAV (PG) College, Dehradun and Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan (UJS), Dehradun are jointly working for development of Water Quality Map of Uttarakhand as per BIS specifications of water quality parameters and APHA guidelines. Under this Water Technology Initiative Programme of DST, GOI, a “State Level Water Quality Analyses Laboratory” has been setup in UJS campus at Dehradun. The majority of sources covered under the study are ground water sources and raw as well as treated water samples have been used for water quality analyses. As an outcome, assessment of 27 physical, chemical and biological water quality characteristics of 13 districts of state will form a standard data resource for those working in drinking water sector and water pollution. The prospective results will be helpful in providing safe drinking water and thus improving health status of common mass who in turn will contribute in developmental process of State and Nation.

Key Words: Water Quality Map, Water Analysis, Water Pollution and Uttarakhand.


Water quality analysis is essential to know the scenario of water of any particular region for various consumptions. The assessment of water quality reveals the purity of water which is being used for drinking and other domestic purposes. Presently, water scarcity and water pollution are two major concerns for all those associated with water sector. The level of water resources is getting diminished day by day due to uncertainty in arrival of monsoon as well as drying of existing sources in summers. Also less rainfall causes less recharge to ground water and depletion of water bed. Besides, the available water sources get deteriorated by the different natural, human and other activities. Hence, the water quality analysis becomes of prime importance before it is being supplied for human consumption. More than 75 Central and State Government departments and organizations are established in Uttarakhand and working for Science & Technology (S&T) development as per their mandate including water sector. Uttarakhand Jal Sanathan (UJS), Dehradun; Uttarakhand Peyjal Sansadhan Vikas Evam Nirman Nigam, Dehradun; Cooperation Centre River Bank Filtration (CCRBF), Haridwar; Uttarakhand Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB), Dehradun; State Water Supply and Sanitation Mission, Dehradun; Swajal, Dehradun are some of the important state bodies whereas National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee; Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, Dehradun; Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), New Delhi centers of Uttarakhand; Regional Centre of Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Dehradun etc. are representative establishments of Central Government working for water supply, quality and water management for sustainable use and development. Besides as international collaborator of UCOST and UJS, University of Applied Sciences, Dresden, Germany is providing technical support for ground and surface water monitoring. Peoples Science Institute, Dehradun and SPECS, Dehradun are established NGO’s working in Dehradun having their credits upto national level for their work in water quality sector.

In spite of presence and efforts of all concerned agencies, there is one gap in providing safe drinking water to mass population of state. The water quality assessment of 13 districts of State has not been thoroughly carried out by any Government or Non-Government organization and most importantly Water Quality Map of Uttarakhand has not yet been prepared so far. Scanty and random reports of important districts are available about water quality but details of their scientific methods of analysis as well as Center/Lab used for analysis are not provided in order to establish the creditability of data. Moreover, the available reports do not cover most of the water characteristics as per BIS norms. Also, most of the studies are one time analysis and no regular updation of available data is being taken care off by any agency.

In order to meet out the above requirement and development of Water Quality Map of Uttarakhand, concerned organizations namely Uttarakhand State Council for Science and Technology (UCOST), Dehradun; DAV (PG) College, Dehradun and Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan (UJS), Dehradun have been jointly working under Water Technology Initiative Programme of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, New Delhi to provide the water quality status of all districts of Uttarakhand including effect of seasonal variation.


The extensive evaluation of major water supply schemes has not been done in Uttarakhand. Most of the schemes are very old and face severe problems owing to different reasons. People are, thus facing the water quality related problems that directly affect the human life. Therefore, some important problems, which have now become challenge in providing safe drinking water to mass population of state, are summarized below-

a) Increased Population- Rapidly increased population in certain locations/pockets is main factor that is responsible for major water scarcity and water pollution. As the population is increasing, the requirement of water has also enhanced manifold. To meet out high demand, sometimes the poor quality water available is supplied for consumption without pretreatment through bypass channels.

b) Industrialization and Urbanization- The growth of industrialization and urbanization is necessary for the development of any region but both are major sources of water pollution and main cause of poor water quality. In Uttarakhand too, the large quantities of industrial effluents, waste by products, solid wastes etc. are directly dumped in nearby water streams without any treatment that deteriorates the surface as well as ground water quality of the surrounding areas and water becomes unfit for drinking purpose.

c) Use of Chemical Fertilizers by Agricultural Sector- Excessive amount of fertilizer, germicide, insecticide and other chemicals are being used mostly in plain areas for farming for good agricultural production (Bhatnagar and Sharma, 2002). These chemicals are absorbed in soil and mixed with ground water or directly runoff in open streams through the rain and other processes to lead the contamination of available water sources used for domestic water supply.

d) Sewage and Sanitation Problems, and Slope Factor- Due to the lack of proper sewage disposal facilities through pipe lines and sewage treatment plants, faecal waste and domestic waste water is directly disposed off in open sources which deteriorate the water quality. Moreover, in hilly region, lack of sanitation facilities, human and animal excreta are directly mixed in rivers, gadheras and other prominent water sources of domestic supply due to the slope factor and thus, pollute water sources.

e) Mass Bathing and Spiritual- During important days of bathing and other festival seasons, people come to Prayags, Haridwar, Reshikesh and other important places to take a holy dip in scared rivers and also offers flowers, idols, ashes, curd, ghee and other religious things along with the polythene bags in the river (Semwal and Akolkar, 2006). The organic matters from these items get mixed with water and contaminate the water. The other non biodegradable materials also flow with water and get settled on the river bed which severely affects the natural replenishment and self purification process of rivers.

f) Natural Factors- Water quality is also contaminated by some natural factors. Due to the geological differences, water contaminations in hilly region are more than the other regions because of leaching of variety of minerals of hilly terrains. Due to difference in geochemistry of different regions and flow of rain water to nearby streams/rivers, water contamination gets increased specially in rainy season with cations and anions.

g) Gaps w.r.t. Water Quality Map of Uttarakhand- Besides, above problems, there is another significant factor responsible for quality problems of domestic water supply and need detailed analysis and study. In the present communication, the water quality problem has been mainly identified from Uttarakhand point of view. As mentioned earlier, the main objective of the study is development of Water Quality Map of Uttarakhand, which is not so far prepared by any organization of centre or state working in water sector. The detailed analysis of water quality parameters of 13 districts is much needed exercise, which is under progress with joint initiative of UCOST, UJS and DAV (PG) College, Dehradun. One of the major reason of lack of development of water quality map of state was absence of any State Level Water Quality Analyses Laboratory within the preview of any concerned agency of water supply of state owing in-house facility of analysis as per BIS and APHA requirements. Also comprehensive and regularly updated data about the region wise water quality is no where available in literature and at any website.

The above said gaps have now been tacked with a great degree of efficacy and precision, and will shortly see and taste the fruits of success.

Sincere efforts have been done by some researchers, groups and organizations for surface and ground water quality analyses and monitoring/assessment and have been summarized district wise as under:

1. Dehradun: The ground water quality of Dehradun district has been studied by the Central Ground Water Board in 2009 that indicates the higher nitrate concentration (CGWB, 2010) than the desirable limit. The water quality assessment has also been done in 2007-08 by adopting various physico-chemical parameters like pH, EC, carbonate, bicarbonate, chloride, total hardness, calcium and magnesium for handpump, springs and river water samples. During the study, concentrations of total hardness, calcium, magnesium were found high than the desirable limits in some locations of the district (CGWB, 2009b). The water quality of Dehradun district has also been studied by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2009 w.r.t. iron, fluoride, salinity, nitrate, arsenic, faecal coliform and other contaminations out of which faecal coliform was of major concern in three water sources of district (IMIS, 2009). Some water quality data has also been provided by different institutional departments in 2006 which indicated high concentrations of different ions like total hardness, TDS, chloride, sulphate, nitrate and iron than the permissible limits in their studied areas (Ziauddin and Siddiqui, 2006). Further study in 2007, also showed high concentrations of total hardness, TDS, chloride than the permissible limits of drinking water (Ziauddin and Siddiqui, 2007). Water quality analysis of ground as well as surface raw water and supply water of Dehradun district by authors group is under progress in which concentrations of some of the parameters are found high and yet to be reconfirmed by further detailed analysis to see the effect of seasonal variation. Water containing high concentrations of heavy metal ions than the permissible limit in different samples is not suitable for drinking purpose and likely to cause harmful diseases.

2. Haridwar: In Haridwar, Ganga river is the main source of water supply for domestic uses in different areas. Ganga river water quality has been studied by GOI, under Ganga Action Plan (GAP). The different parameters have been adopted like DO, BOD, total coliform (Tc), faecal coliform (Fc) in which Tc and Fc in most of the sites were found higher than the permissible limits (GAP, 2009). Out of 14 sources, 9 water sources were also affected by various chemical or bacteriological contaminants, during the water quality analysis carried out by the Ministry of Rural Development (IMIS, 2009). The numbers of faecal coliform were also found higher than the permissible limit in Ganga river during the regular monitoring of Central Pollution Control Board from 2002 to 2008 (Sharma et al., 2009). Ganga river water quality has also been found to be deteriorated due to excess contamination of Tc and Fc during study of Uttarakhand Urban Development Project in 2007 (CDP, 2007). The groundwater quality of Haridwar district has also been analysed by Central Ground Water Board in 2009. Under the analysis, all the parameters have been found within the limit and revealed fresh water quality that is being used for drinking purpose (CGWB, 2009a). Some other institutions have also provided data about the assessment of water quality in different seasons that show the contaminated water quality of Ganga river due to high turbidity (Joshi et al., 2009) and excess coliform contamination (Baghel et al., 2005 and Sood et al., 2008). High nitrate concentration has also been observed in water quality study carried out by Central Ground Water Board in 2009 (CGWB, 2010). But the pollution load has rapidly increased in Ganga river due to the disposal of garbage and religious activities. Hence, to meet out the problem, government of India has established the authority of National Ganga River Basin that has the power to control the pollution and its causes (MOEF, 2010).

3. Chamoli: The ground water and spring water quality analysis of Chamoli district indicate the water quality deteriorated owing to increased concentration of magnesium, nitrate, fluoride, sodium and total hardness in ground water at different locations. This water quality analysis has been done by Central Ground Water Board in 2009 (CGWB, 2009a). One contaminated source is also observed by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2009 (IMIS, 2009) out of 21 analyzed water sources due to high faecal concentration.

4. Rudraprayag: The ground water scenario of Rudraprayag district has been described by Central Ground Water Board in 2009 with high fluoride concentration than the permissible limit of 1.5 mg/l in Usyan village of Rudraprayag (CGWB, 2009a). The water quality of Rudraprayag has also been studied by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2009 (IMIS, 2009) in which faecal coliform was of major concern. Faecal coliform was also reported in higher concentration during the Ganga river water monitoring through Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB, 2009). No another referential data have been provided by the other organization about the water quality of the district.

5. Uttarkashi: The analyzed ground water and spring water quality of Uttarkashi through the Central Ground Water Board in 2009 revealed the deteriorated water quality of both type of sources due to high concentration of nitrate, sodium and magnesium (CGWB, 2009a) than the desirable/permissible limits that indicate high pollution load in these sources. The polluted water quality of district is also exhibited by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2009 due to excess faecal contaminations in 13 sources out of 23 sources (IMIS, 2009). But no detailed water quality analysis data is available. Uttarkashi district has also been covered under present phase of study by authors that reveals the higher concentrations of some water characteristics than the permissible limit in different samples.

6. Pauri: The water quality of Pauri district has been studied by Ministry of Rural Development in 2009, where all the water sources have been found free from any chemical and bacteriological contaminants (IMIS, 2009). No other regional data have been found for the area by other organizations. Water quality status of Pauri district has been scrutinized as part of ongoing studies. The water quality analysis of Pauri district using physico- chemical parameters as per BIS standard for drinking water, reveals the high alkalinity values than the desirable limits.

7. Tehri: Similar to Pauri, Tehri district has also been covered by Ministry of Rural Development in 2009 for 8 parameters in which most of the sources were found with bacteriological contaminations (IMIS, 2009). High concentrations of physical and chemical parameters than the desirable or permissible limit, are observed during water quality analysis under the so far studies carried out by authors.

8. Almora: During the water quality study of Almora district in 2009 by Central Ministry of Rural Development, the faecal and chemical contaminations have been found high in three and two blocks, respectively of Almora district (IMIS, 2009). The nitrate concentration had also been found high in some other studies (Kumar et al., 1997) but no proper authentification was found for some of the data.

9. Nainital: In Nainital, Nainital lake water is mainly used to meet out the demand of water for domestic uses. Water quality characteristics have been determined by Uttarakhand Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) in 2007-08 by using color, odour, TDS, EC, pH, DO, BOD, hardness, calcium, magnesium, alkalinity and chloride. Except calcium, magnesium and alkalinity, all the parameters have been found under the limit (UEPPCB, 2009) but updated data of these water characteristics is not available at website of UEPPCB. In water quality study of Nainital district through the Centre for Water Policy in 2005, the nitrate concentration was found higher than the desirable limit of BIS standard (CWP, 2005). Lake water quality of Nainital has also been determined by some institutional departments that indicates high coliform contamination (Dash et al., 2008 and Pande et al., 1983) than the permissible limits.

10. Pithoragarh: The water quality of Pithoragarh district has been assessed by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2009 that expressed the contaminated water quality of 17 sources out of 74 water sources due to high faecal and other multiple contaminants (IMIS, 2009).

11. Udham Singh Nagar: The water quality scenario of Udham Singh Nagar shows the high concentrations of iron and chromium (CGWB, 2009a) and also nitrate (CGWB, 2010) than the desirable/permissible limits. The Ministry of Rural Development has also showed the contaminated water quality of Udham Singh Nagar in 2009 (IMIS, 2009). Another study also reported the ground water quality of the district where water was found contaminated with higher concentration of fluoride, magnesium and TDS than the permissible limits (Banerjee et al., 2009).

12. Bageshwar: Central Ground Water Board has done the quality assessment of ground water of Bageshwar district in 2009 that indicates the high quantity of fluoride, magnesium and sodium in ground water at different sampling sites (CGWB, 2009a). However, 58 water sources of Bageshwar district have also been studied by Ministry of Rural Development in 2009 and all sources have been found free from any pollutant (IMIS, 2009).

13. Champawat: The groundwater quality status of Champawat district has also exhibited by Central Ground Water Board in 2009 which expressed that EC, pH, Ca, Mg, bicarbonate, cloride, total hardness are under permissible limits. Hence, the overall quality of water is good and suitable for domestic and other purposes (CGWB, 2009a). But large numbers of sources have been found contaminated due to the faecal coliform through another study of Ministry of Rural Development in 2009 (IMIS, 2009).


The present programme of “Development of Water Quality Map of Uttarakhand” is being run under Water Technology Initiative Programme of DST, GOI in association with UCOST, Dehradun which in turn has collaborated with the user department of water sector UJS, Dehradun and academia partner DAV (PG) College, Dehradun.

The main outcome of the overall programme will be an updated Water Quality Map of Uttarakhand having data from reliable source. Moreover, awareness will be created and training will be imparted about the quality of water which is being used for drinking purpose to the community and users. The so far outcome of the studies carried out are as under:

a) 27 physico- chemical and biological parameters have been identified and being used for the assessment of water quality of 13 districts as per BIS standard for potable water namely are color, odour, taste, turbidity, pH, total hardness, iron, chloride, residual free chlorine, dissolved solids, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, sulfate, nitrate, fluoride, phenolic compound, cadmium, arsenic, lead, zinc, chromium, pesticides, alkalinity, aluminium, coliform bacteria.

b) The results include effect of seasonal variation of monsoon season i.e. pre and post monsoon samples are being collected. Also, 3 samples are collected from each site as per standard methods of APHA (APHA, 2005) and average value is reported.

c) Major state of art analytical instruments are being used for the assessment of water quality parameters which detect the different ions, metal ions and characteristics/parameters upto ppm and ppb levels through UV-VIS Spectrophotometer with bar coded reagents and kits and Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer along with others and give the more accuracy, reliability and reproducibility during analyses.

d) The water quality data of 60 locations of 13 districts have been so far covered.

e) “State Level Water Quality Analyses Laboratory” for physical, chemical and biological parameters of water quality has been established in UJS campus, Dilaram Bazar, Dehradun.


Water quality analysis of water as per norms of Drinking Water Standards is necessary to know about the scenario and extent of pollutants being consumed by the mass population, which may otherwise cause risk to their health. The water quality map of all the 13 districts of Uttarakhand will express the status of water quality which may also be used as reference data by researchers, scientists and social scientists working in water sector for analysis, testing, training and awareness. Moreover, the State Level Water Quality Analysis Lab being set up under the programme is likely to become a State Referral Lab for the analysis of water quality as per BIS norms for concerned state department of water supply sector.


The authors are thankful to Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, New Delhi; Uttarakhand State Council for Science and Technology (UCOST), Dehradun; Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan (UJS), Dehradun and DAV (PG) College, Dehradun for financial and technical assistances provided for this work.

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- CGWB. 2009a: Districts Profile of Uttarakhand. Central Ground Water Board, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India.
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- SOOD, A., SINGH, K.D., PANDEY, P. AND SHARMA, S., 2008: Assessment of Bacterial Indicators and Physicochemical Parameters to Investigate Pollution Status of Gangetic River System of Uttarakhand (India). Ecological Indicators, 8, 709-717.
- UEPPCB. 2009: Water Quality Data. Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board, Dehradun, India.
- ZIAUDDIN, A., AZEEZ, M.A. AND SIDDIQUI, N.A., 2007: A Case Study on Physico-Chemical Characteristics of Ground Water and Soil Samples of Municipal Solid Waste Dump Yard. Environmental Pollution Control Journal, 11, 40-44.

Rajendra Dobhal, Prashant Singh, S.P. Mittal, D.P. Uniyal, Bhavtosh Sharma, Rakesh Singh, Shweta Tyagi
Uttarakhand State Council for Science and Technology, Dehradun
Department of Chemistry, DAV (PG) College, Dehradun
Department of Chemistry, DBS (PG) College, Dehradun


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