CHALLENGES IN SETTING APPROPRIATE WATER QUALITY STANDARDS FOR POINT SOURCE WATER IN RURAL COMMUNITIES IN THE LAO PDR
Providing improved water and sanitation in rural areas is a common goal of development programmes. An important facet in improving health outcomes is ensuring the quality of water supplied.
In this case study, 'safe water' is one of the conditions of the concession agreement for resettled communities due to a large hydropower project. It examines the available standards for drinking water in the Lao PDR and the problems encountered trying to achieve compliance for thermotolerant coliform levels despite significant investment.
The presentation discusses the difficulties in balancing the requirements of donors with the need to protect communities utilising the water, and how the drive for 'perfect' water quality could ultimately result in negative health impacts. The cost effectiveness of investment in new technologies to achieve set thermotolerant coliform levels is arguably limited when compared to investing in education on sanitation, hygiene and storage.
The study looks at the risks associated with diverting resources away from these areas to water treatment technologies that may not be technically sustainable in rural areas, nor necessary to protect human health. The presentation describes collaboration by THPC and the International WaterCentre exploring the best options for measuring the quality of domestic water without compromising community health.