KATHMANDU: Contamination in water bodies in the Sagarmatha National Park and its Buffer Zone (SNPBZ) has accelerated in recent years, thanks to the influx of visitors and the increase in human waste, stated a recent survey carried out in the Everest region.
The survey sponsored by the Hindukush Karakoram Himalaya Partnership Project — EvK2 National Research Council of Italy in coordination with the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology was carried out in 2007-08. The survey on ‘Impacts of Tourism in the SNPBZ’ was carried out by Prof Dr PK Jha, in cooperation with researchers NP Ghimire and BB Shrestha of the Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University.
According to the research, bacterial contamination was recorded in 13 percent water samples and one sample of mineral water. “E coli and Streptococcus faecolies were found in the waters of Khumbu Valley,” Dr Jha told this daily today. Dudhkoshi, Bhotekoshi, Imja Khola and Gokyo lake are the major water bodies in the region.
Besides the local visitors, the total population of the area is 5,869. Unsafe toilet and use of manures are the major cause of water contamination, the report stated. “Litter toilet is common among farming population and the waste is later used as fertilizer in potato fields,” the report stated, adding, “There are three types of toilet tanks—simple pit , stone-wall septic tack and cement-wall septic tanks. Only 4.66 per cent of the population has cement-wall septic tank.”
A total of 2,197 tons of manure is produced in the region annually and eight tons of manure is used in a hectare of arable land. The excessive use of manure contaminates the water bodies badly, Jha added.
Six water samples collected in the area had iron content of 1.2 mg/litre in Dudhkoshi at Jorsalle and 0.64 mg/litre in Bhotekoshi near Thame. The iron content in drinking water should be less than 0.3 mg/litre, according to the World Health Organisation. “Water pollution prevention programme should be implemented to control this hazard,” Jha added.
The samples collected in the region were tested under standard methods at Environmental Assessment Material Testing Division, Kathmandu.