Waste water management and water quality of river Yamuna in the megacity of Delhi

Abstract

The present study aims at assessing water quality of river Yamuna in one of the world’s most polluted and populated megacities, Delhi. Conductivity, salinity and sodium content were within the permissible categories. Chloride concentration exceeded acceptable levels of drinking water guidelines. Water quality was poor at all locations with respect to heavy metal contamination, especially along the lower section of the Delhi stretch. Heavy metal concentrations were manifold higher than the acceptable limits of drinking water according to the BIS guidelines and reached ~29, 4.9, 10, 31, 27, 83, 7.3 and 27 times higher, respectively, for metals aluminum, copper, chromium, cadmium, iron, lead, manganese and nickel. The Najafgarh and the Shahdara drains are major point sources. Low oxidation–reduction potential reflected high organic loads and traces of eutrophication together with significant levels of nitrate and total phosphate. Discharges from agriculture, sewage and power plants could be important sources of high metal concentration. This calls for urgent measures to be taken for prevention of metal contamination in the river, through both, technology as well as implementation of regulations in order to sustain huge populations in megacities like Delhi. Waste water treatment from point sources needs tremendous improvement on the city. Treatment of the entire waste generated up to the tertiary level is required for minimizing dissolved solids, especially toxic metals, and rendering reuse in agriculture suitable. Treatment plants need proper operation, maintenance, uninterrupted power supply and regular monitoring. Various measure and programmes need to be undertaken to ensure safe reuse of wastewater.

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Acknowledgements

This piece of research is a part of the Ph.D. thesis of one of the authors. Facilities provided by the School of Environmental Sciences, the Central Instrumentation Facility of the school and the Advanced Instrumentation Research Facility, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi are duly acknowledged by the authors.

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Correspondence to M. Parween.

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Editorial responsibility: V.K. Gupta.

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Parween, M., Ramanathan, A. & Raju, N.J. Waste water management and water quality of river Yamuna in the megacity of Delhi. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 14, 2109–2124 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13762-017-1280-8

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Keywords

  • Heavy metals
  • Hydrochemistry
  • Major ions nutrients
  • Pollution
  • Sewage treatment
  • Toxic metals
  • Waste water treatment