Publication Type:

Journal Article


Environmental Earth Sciences, Volume 61, Number 2, p.287–298 (2009)



Alluvial groundwater from springs and bore wells, used as the major source of water for drinking and other domestic purposes in the semi-urban informal settlements of Douala, Cameroon, has been studied. Six representative springs, four bore wells and two hand dug wells, situated in the Phanerozoic basin were selected, from which a total of 72 water samples were analyzed for chemical characteristics and indicators of bacterial contamination. The results showed anthropogenic pollution, evident from high concentrations of organic (up to 94.3 mg NO3/l nitrate) fecal coliform and fecal streptococcus detected in the springs and bore wells (with values of 2,311 and 1,500 cfu/100 ml, respectively). The pH ranged from 3.4–6.5, which is lower than the guidelines for drinking water. Groundwater samples from background upstream inland natural areas W1 and W2 had low electrical conductivity (54.2 and 74.8 $μ$s/cm, respectively) and major ions, which increased downstream in the valleys, peaking in the more densely settled areas. An acceptable concentration of solutes was observed for the bore wells except for a single sample from B4. The bore-well sample B4 registered the highest microbial content (2,130 cfu/100 ml) and nitrate level(26 mg/l), which could be due to the bottom of this well lying just at or close to the zone of mixing between sewage and groundwater. The absence of a direct correlation between nitrate and fecal matter suggests multiple sources of contamination. The shallow alluvial aquifer consists of unconsolidated deposits of gravel, sand, silt and clay. The springs, therefore, receive direct recharge from the ground surface with limited contaminant attenuation, which leads to water quality deterioration, especially during the rainy season. This shows the urgent need to put basic service infrastructures in place. The local population should be sensitized to the importance of chlorinating and boiling drinking water to prevent health hazards.

Cite this Research Publication

G. Eneke Takem, Chandrasekharam, D., Ayonghe, S. N., and Thambidurai, P., “Pollution characteristics of alluvial groundwater from springs and bore wells in semi-urban informal settlements of Douala, Cameroon, Western Africa”, Environmental Earth Sciences, vol. 61, pp. 287–298, 2009.