Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 2079–2088 | Cite as

Impact of on-site sanitation systems on groundwater sources in a coastal aquifer in Chennai, India

  • Chandrakant JangamEmail author
  • Paras Pujari
Groundwater under threat from diffuse contaminants: improving on-site sanitation, agriculture and water supply practices


On-site sanitation is the most preferred mode of sanitation due to expensive off-site sanitation. The increasing population especially in the peri-urban areas has led to increasing use of on-site sanitation systems in India. However, the habitations in the vicinity of these systems do not have centralised water supply and are dependent on groundwater sources. However, there is concern about leaching of faecal coliforms and nitrate from the septic tanks to the underlying aquifer. The present study is attempted at two sites in the coastal city of Chennai where on-site sanitation is prevailing. The sample locations (16 nos.) are selected in such a way that groundwater sources are situated in the vicinity of on-site sanitation systems. The groundwater sources are the bore wells installed by the private agencies. It is observed that parameters considered key parameters to study the impact of the on-site sanitation systems, namely Na2+, Cl, NO3, faecal coliform and total dissolved solids, exceed the concentration limits recommended by the Bureau of Indian Standards. The piper diagram analysis identifies that the predominant cations and anions are respectively Na+, and Cl, SO4 and HCO3.The Gibbs plot shows ground water quality is dominated by the evaporation process in both the seasons. The Cl/HCO3 ratio in many samples confirms the seawater intrusion in the study area. Elevated concentrations of faecal coliforms in all the samples (16 nos.) confirm the significant amount of groundwater pollution from the on-site sanitation systems. It is desired that policy planners and implementation agencies should undertake detailed scientific and hydrogeological studies of the region in order to examine the feasibility of implementing on-site sanitation systems.


On-site sanitation Groundwater pollution Nitrate Faecal coliform Coastal aquifer 



The authors deeply acknowledge the support of Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Director, CSIR-NEERI, for providing laboratory facilities and CPHEEO (Government of India) for the financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Water Technology and Management DivisionCSIR–National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI)NagpurIndia

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