By Angela Success
Have you ever noticed blue green algae bloom in your external water filter and inside your water tanks? This may be caused by contamination of your water by sewage. When boreholes are too close to the sewage tanks, the possibility of water pollution from the tank becomes imminent.
The presence of blue green algae blooms have been linked to increase in phosphorus and nitrates, which can enter the water through the presence of human waste, animal waste, soaps or fertilizers. Blue-green algae are mostly found in running or dammed water. They support the aquatic food chain but contact with them can cause skin rashes and eye irritations. Ingestion of the algae can also cause vomiting, gastroenteritis and hay fever.
In addition to these, the untreated human waste, which triggers their growth contains germs that cause diseases, like cholera and hepatitis.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) “eighty per cent of our waste water just flows back to nature, polluting the environment and wasting valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials. Not everyone knows where their poo goes once it drops into the toilet and whether it’s harming or helping our health and environment.”
The lack of drinking water and proper toilet facilities among residents of various communities have led to the sitting of boreholes close to soak away pits. More dangerous is the practice of evacuating the waste from the soak away and burying such close to the boreholes because of the cost of taking it away completely. Outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, and other diseases are on the increase as waste water finds its way into our environment. Most of the diseases around us are sanitation and water related. Rural communities do not have adequate toilet facilities. Most of them have to defecate indiscriminately, at times even into their source of water.
It should be noted that cholera, which produces a toxin that upsets the small intestine causing diarrhea and vomiting, is spread through contamination of water by fecal matters.
Borno State has seen the outbreak of this disease since August 2017, as most internally displaced people’s camps lack basic facilities. It has recorded “more than 4,800 suspected cases and 61 deaths (as of October 12, 2017). Cholera is caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholera. It spreads in an environment with poor sanitary conditions and limited access to drinking water. When human waste is allowed access to our water and food, deadly diseases spread impeding progress in the health sector.
According to WHO, “for billions of people around the world, sanitation systems are either non-existent or ineffective.” It is expected that by 2030, every one’s waste will be contained, transported, treated and disposed of in a safe and sustainable way. This year’s world toilet day theme, ‘Waste water’ promotes and project the fact that human waste should be stored and sealed appropriately; moved from toilet or tank through pipes, treated with its water and returned safely to the environment. Everything should be done to reduce the level of wastewater contamination among humans. To reduce fecal contamination, Nigeria’s national policy states that boreholes or water wells should be located at least 30 meters away from soak away, pit latrines, septic tanks.