Impact of Piping Materials on Water Quality in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

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Virginia Tech

The possible effects of pipe materials on drinking water quality have been analyzed in the distribution system of the water treatment plant of "La La Concepciónâ " in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. "La La Concepciónâ " is a surface water reservoir experiencing biogeochemical cycling of manganese. Black water problems have been reported in the distribution system since 1998. An evaluation of the potential influence that PVC and iron pipes could have on the concentration of iron and manganese in drinking water, the effects caused by the presence of manganese in PVC and iron pipe surfaces, and residual chlorine and Pb concentrations in the distribution system was performed. The sampled neighborhoods received an intermittent service. Water was suspended for 8 hours every day due to water quantity problems in the city. Water and pipe samples were obtained for PVC and galvanized iron pipes because these constitute the majority of the infrastructure used for distribution systems in Honduras. Thermodynamic and kinetic conditions for possible manganese oxidation by chlorine and dissolved oxygen in the distribution system were also evaluated. As expected, total Fe concentrations were greater for first flush conditions from the iron pipe. Water samples obtained from the PVC pipe showed higher total Mn concentrations and more black color than those obtained from the iron pipe for both first flush and continuous flow conditions. Residual chlorine decayed relatively fast along the sampled section of the distribution system. Pb concentrations were detected on water samples obtained from PVC for first flush and continuous flow and on iron pipe for first flush. Preliminary experiments showed that manganese-oxidizing and -reducing bacteria were present in the walls of both PVC and iron pipes. Higher numbers of colony-forming microorganisms were recovered from iron (30-fold more) compared to PVC pipe sections. However, the majority of isolates from the PVC biofilm (8 of 10, 80 %) were capable of Mn-oxidation while only 35 % (11 of 31) of isolates from the iron biofilm sample demonstrated Mn-oxidation. This research demonstrates the importance of the different interactions between water and the infrastructure used for its supply in producing safe drinking water.

First Flush, Intermittent Flow, Manganese Oxidation, Pipe Material