ABSTRACT: The concern over ensuing freshwater scarcity has forced the developing countries to delve for alternative water resources. In this study, we examined the potential of stagnant surface water bodies (SSWBs) as alternative freshwater resources in the densely populated Chittagong metropolitan area (CMPA) of Bangladesh—where there is an acute shortage of urban freshwater supply. Water samples were collected at 1-month intervals for a period of 1 year from 12 stations distributed over the whole metropolis. Samples were analyzed for pH, water temperature (WTemp), turbidity, electrical conductivity (EC), total dissolved solids, total solids, total hardness, dissolved oxygen (DO), chloride, orthophosphates, ammonia, total coliforms (TC), and trace metal (Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, As, and Fe) concentrations. Based on these parameters, different types of water quality indices (WQIs) were deduced. WQIs showed most of CMPA-SSWBs as good or medium quality water bodies, while none were categorized as bad. Moreover, it was observed that the minimal water quality index (WQIm), computed using five parameters: WTemp, pH, DO, EC, and turbidity, gave a reliable estimate of water quality. The WQIm gave similar results in 72% of the cases compared with other WQIs that were based on larger set of parameters. Based on our finding, we suggest the wider use WQIm in developing countries for assessing health of SSWBs, as it will minimize the analytical cost to overcome the budget constraints involved in this kind of evaluations. It was observed that except turbidity and TC content, all other quality parameters fluctuated within the limit of the World Health Organization suggested standards for drinking water. From our findings, we concluded that if the turbidity and TC content of water from SSWBs in CMPA are taken care of, they will become good candidates as alternative water resources all round the year.
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 173(1-4):669-684.