Evaluation of well designs to improve access to safe and clean water in rural Tanzania

Aminata Kilungo, Linda S Powers, Nathan Arnold, Kelli Whelan, Kurt Paterson, Dale Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to examine three well designs: drilled wells (20–30 m deep), closed dug wells (>5 m deep), and hand-dug open wells (<5 m deep), to determine the water quality for improving access to safe and clean water in rural communities. Heterotrophic plate count (HPC), total coliforms (TC), Escherichia coli (E. coli) and turbidity, were used to assess the water quality of 97 wells. Additionally, the study looked at the microflora diversity of the water, focusing on potential pathogens using outgrowth, PCR, and genome sequencing for 10 wells. Concentrations of TC for the open dug wells (4 × 104 CFU/100 mL) were higher than the drilled (2 × 103 CFU/100 mL) and closed dug wells (3 × 103 CFU/100 mL). E. coli concentration for drilled and closed dug wells was <22 MPN (most probable number)/100 mL, but higher for open wells (>154 MPN/100 mL). The drilled well turbidity (11 NTU) was within the standard deviation of the closed well (28 NTU) compared to open dug wells (49 NTU). Drilled and closed wells had similar microbial diversity. There were no significant differences between drilled and closed dug wells. The covering and lining of hand-dug wells should be considered as an alternative to improve access to safe and clean water in rural communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number64
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 4 2018



  • Borehole
  • Coliform
  • Escherichia coli
  • Groundwater
  • Ifakara
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Water quality
  • Well comparison
  • Well depth
  • Well design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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