Evaluation of Microbiological and Physicochemical Parameters of Alternative Source of Drinking Water: A Case Study of Nzhelele River, South Africa

Joshua N. Edokpayi*, 1, John O. Odiyo1, Elizabeth O. Popoola2, Titus A.M. Msagati3
1 Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou, 0950, South Africa
2 Department of Chemical Sciences, Yaba College of Technology, Nigeria
3 College of Science, Engineering & Technology, Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability Research Unit, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Creative Commons License
© 2018 Edokpayi et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou, 0950, South Africa, Tel: +27788162538;



Access to clean and safe drinking water is still a problem in developing countries and more pronounced in rural areas. Due to erratic supply of potable, rural dwellers often seek for an alternative source of water to meet their basic water needs. The objective of this study is to monitor the microbiological and physicochemical water quality parameters of Nzhelele River which is a major alternative source of drinking water to villages along its course in Limpopo province of South Africa.


Membrane filtration method was employed in evaluating the levels of E. coli and Enterococci in the river water from January-June, 2014. Specialized multimeter was used to measure the pH, electrical conductivity and turbidity of the river water. Ion Chromatograph was used to measure major anions such as fluoride, chloride, nitrate and sulphate in the water.


High levels of E. coli (1 x 102 - 8 x 104 cfu/100 mL) and enterococci (1 x 102 – 5.7 x 103 cfu/100 mL) were found in the river water and exceeded their permissible limits of 0 cfu/100 mL for drinking water. Turbidity values ranged from 1.12-739.9 NTU. The pH, electrical conductivity, chloride, fluoride, nitrate and sulphate levels were below their permissible limits for drinking water.


The river water is contaminated with faecal organisms and is unfit for drinking purposes. However, the levels of the major anions accessed were within the permissible limits of drinking water.

Keywords: E. coli, Enterococci, Public health, Water quality, Drinking water, Pollution.