Sampling Water in Patan
On Wednesday last week we left the usual workshop space, carried our bags along with a box of test tubes and syringes to collect samples of water at different areas of Patan. We gave numbers from 1 to 14 in the test tubes with a marker.
The first sample of water was collected from Quixote’s Cove’s washroom sink (where we have our workshops). We were supposed to collect 10 ml of sample in each test tube.
Then we headed towards Manbhawan where we collected our second sample from a panipuri stall.
Our 3rd sample was from a butcher shop in Purnachandi. There we collected water from tube well, which according to the man, is used for drinking without any treatment.
We took our 4th sample from the same place from a tap which is not used for any purpose due to its smell, impurities and yellow colour. However, according to the residents the tap water is comparatively cleaner and usable in the morning. While we were collecting those samples, the people were really curious to know the results of water and they were hopeful that they might get clean and pure water in the future.
Then the 5th sample was collected from Chhabahal Hiti. Very little water was flowing from the hiti and the water around the hiti was not clean; there were rubbish and the water collected on the ground was filled with green layer of algae. People still used the water from that hiti as there were buckets placed in queue.
We then went to Dhhokaima café at Patan Dhoka. We met the manager there, who was quite supportive and positive towards our project and we took drinking water sample from them which was from Jal company which they used for cooking an drinking purposes.
Next 7th sample was collected from Mahabharat momo center in Patan Dhoka. They gave drinking water sample which was from H2O Company which they have been using since 3 years for cooking and drinking purposes.
Sample no 8 was from Saraswati Kunda which is known to be a pure and holy water, which was collected during our picnic in Lele. After sometime, we had to divide our group into 3 due to lack of time. We went to
different places for sample collection. One group went to Bagmati river near UN park in Chakupat and Sankhamul bridge for collection of sample no.9 and 10 respectively.
Sample 11 was collected from Pimbahal Pokhari where Sian had to dodge some angry geese.
The next group went to Bangalamukhi for sample 12 and 13. Sample 12 was taken from a local grocery shop from a tube well and sample 13 was from Bangalamukhi Hiti in which the water had dried so we took water collected on the ground of hiti which was filled with algae.
Sample no 14 was a control sample and so we put no water in this one.
Our main objective was to test the presence of microbes in different samples. Hence the samples were taken to Patan hospitals microbiology lab (room number 18). This particular microbiology lab deals with any type of enteric fever so it was an ideal place for us to test presence of microbes in water from different places. We handed the test tubes to the microbiologists who then told us that the samples along with some chemical indicators will be kept for incubation over night. They pointed out that we would get the results by tomorrow (Thursday).
On Thursday we had invited some microbiogists from Patan hospital along with the results of our water samples. The jeewan jal family was excited and worried at the same time about the result. Before our guests’ arrived we talked about the water samples and our feelings about the result. Most of us were sure that the samples collected from Dhokaima café and Saraswati Kunda would have positive results. All of us applied our own logic to support it. Dhokaima café is a fine restaurant, attracting a lot of foreigners. Hence we figured the water at this café might show a positive result. Saraswati Kund on the other hand is a holy place. The water from that “Kund” is said to have a healing power so on our visit to Saraswati Kund we drank gulps of water. We hoped the water was free of microbes just to make sure we did not inject any microbes present in the water. It was not difficult to guess that sample of water from Mahabharat momo centre and pani puri stall will be contaminated as they looked unhygienic.
In the afternoon our guests, team of microbiologists arrived with our samples. We first sat down for a small introduction round. Then we were split into three groups for a small discussion round. We got enlightened about room number 18 at Patan hospital, enteric diseases, typhoid, antibodies and many other things. After the discussion round was over we decided to take a look at the results from the test. We gathered together with excitement. The test tubes with indicators would appear yellow if there were presence of microbes and would appear bluish violet it the water no microbial contamination. One by one the test-tube were taken out of the box and were showed to us. We were told to guess where the samples came from but that was extremely difficult for us as only one sample was bluish violet. The rest of our sample was all yellow. We had two samples that had sediments at the bottom of the test-tube and one sample with froth at the top. Most of us gave up guessing at this point. Majority along with the microbiologist thought that the clean water was either from Dhokaima café or Saraswati kunda. Some of us were pretty sure that the test tubes with sediments were sample water form river Bagmati.
After a long debate the results were finally revealed. The test-tube with a layer of froth at the top was Pani puri water. The sample with sediment at the bottom was guessed right by our team; it was Bagmati water. Then came our last and the most awaited sample, the cleanest in the batch. The result showed that drinking water of Mahabharat momo centre is the cleanest! We all were shocked because none of us had expected that sample to be the cleanest.
Sabina explained to us that this was not a conclusive result and didn't really show us how much bacteria was in the water. A small amount of bacteria is normally expected and usually the researchers at the research unit would take 5 samples of varying quantities to give an idea of how contaminated the water is. The control gave us an idea of whether or not the broth itself might have been contaminated irrespective of the water samples. The broth which we took around the town showed a slight colour change and so we maybe let a few bacteria in as we walked around. Still we can award our congratulations to Makbhalal momo centre for having the cleanest water in town.
1- Local Grocery Shop Banglamukhi, Patan
2- Panipuri Water, Laginkhel Road, Patan
3- Bagmati River, Sankhamul, Patan
4- Saraswati Kunda, Lele (the sacred source of water for Patan an hour away)
5- Butcher's shop water from the well, Patan
6- Bagmati River, UN park, Patan
7- Banglamukhi Hiti, pond below the spouts, Patan
8- Pimbahal Pokhari (pond), Patan
9- Chabal Hiti, Patan
10-Tap water from purnachandi, Patan
11-Makbhalal momo centre, Patan
12-Sink at the Jeewan Jal workshop space at QC (Quixote's Cove)
13-Dokhaima Cafe, Patan (they use jar water for cooking and drinking)
14-Control (no water added just indicator in the bottle)