Monday, September 20, 2004

Ground water near fishpond may not be safe

Source: The Jakarta Post

Dewi Santoso, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

People living near fishponds need to take care in using ground water as it may be polluted with bacteria and other micro-organisms from water used to clean fishponds, a study revealed.

A field study carried out by the National University (Unas) at Prapat village in Pangandaran, West Java, reveals that ground water surrounding fishponds is highly polluted with organisms and coliform of bacteria.

The study was among those presented at a symposium on Saturday at the university. Founded by one of the country's literary giants, the late Sutan Takdir Alisyahbana, a controversial advocate of rationality, is the country's oldest school of biology.

Conducted in August by a five-member team of Unas lecturers, the study shows that the ground water of nine shallow wells supporting nine households around the fishpond contains an organic level of between 88.48 milligrams per liter (mg/L) and 236.7 mg/L. It said the normal level of organisms contained in clean water should not exceed 10 mg/L.

The study further shows that the ground water contains a high level of coli-form of bacteria which the researchers said, is an indication of contamination by e-coli -- the Escherichia coli bacteria found in human feces.

"One suggestion is to expand septic tanks to enable them to hold the water used to clean the fishpond and to prevent it from polluting the ground water," said researcher Yeremiah R. Camin.

Currently, the locals use septic tanks to retain water used to clean the fishpond.

Yeremiah explained that the study was conducted due to local residents' complaints of the ground water.

"We visited the place two years ago and the residents complained that it (the ground water) had a bad fish odor and looked murky," he said.

"The study does not say that such high levels of bacteria and other micro-organisms will immediately result in diarrhea or other skin diseases, as we will need to conduct another study on that. But it does state that people should be careful in using ground water, especially when they live near fishponds, as it may not be clean or safe for consumption," he told The Jakarta Post.