Awash river has been impaired by various types of pollution owing to waste released from different socio-economic activities in its basin. This research was aimed at evaluating its quality status with respect to drinking and irrigation water uses. Based on accessibility and land use severity, 23 sample sites were chosen along the river and sampling was done twice in each of the dry and wet seasons. Thereafter, both onsite and offsite water quality analyses were undertaken following standard procedures. Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment Water Quality Index (CCME WQI) was applied to compute the water quality indices. Accordingly, the drinking and irrigation water quality indices of the upper basin were found to be 34.79 and 46.39 respectively, which were in the poor and marginal categories of the Canadian water quality ranking. Meanwhile, the respective indices for the middle/lower basin, which were 32.25 and 62.78, which lie in the poor and fair ranges of the ranking. Although the difference in the dataset used for the two cases and natural purification in the course of the river might contribute to the difference in WQI, it is generally conceivable that the water quality of the river is below the good rank. Establishment of wastewater treatment plants and storm water quality management at hotspot areas are recommended to improve the quality.
Key words: Awash river basin, Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment Water Quality Index (CCME WQI), drinking and irrigation water uses, Ethiopia, water pollution.
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