Physico-chemical characteristics of some river and hand-dug well waters used for drinking and domestic purposes in the oil rich Niger Delta area of Nigeria were assessed using standard methods. The concentrations of the parameters in the river water samples ranged in the following order: pH (5.6–6.9), temperature (26.90–28.60°C), turbidity (23–63 NTU), electrical conductivity (52–184 μs/cm), DO (5.4–7.2 mg/l), BOD (21–57 mg/l), TDS (6.0–217 mg/l), PO4
3− (0.19–1.72 mg/l), SO4
2− (25–36.8 mg/l), NO3
− (20.3–28 mg/l), Fe (6.07–15.71 mg/l), Zn (0.04–0.24 mg/l), Pb (0.01–0.17 mg/l), Ni (0.01–0.13 mg/l), Vn (0.01–0.20 mg/l) and Hg (0.001–0.002 mg/l). The concentrations of these parameters in the hand-dug well water ranged in the following order: pH (5.7–6.8) temperature (26–30°C), turbidity (134–171 NTU), electrical conductivity (160–340 μs/cm), DO (5.4–6.4 mg/l), BOD (13–34 mg/l), TDS (110–190 mg/l), PO4
3− (0.84–1.84 mg/l), SO4
2− (10.6–28.1 mg/l), NO3
− (11.3–23 mg/l), Fe (13.17–16.31 mg/l), Ni (0.01–0.02 mg/l), Vn (0.01–0.04 mg/l) and Hg (0.001–0.004 mg/l). The concentrations of BOD, turbidity, NO3
− and Fe in the water samples were above WHO and FMENV permissible limits for safe drinking water. The results suggest that the use of such waters for drinking and domestic purposes pose a serious threat to the health of the users and calls for the intervention of government agencies.