Lake Hawassa is one of the eight Major Ethiopian Rift Valley Lakes and the smallest among them which is situated in southern regional state; it is a closed basin system and receives water from only perennial Tikurwuha River and runoff from the catchment areas. It is an important source of water for surrounding rural communities for various uses like domestic, irrigation, livestock watering, fishing and recreation. Quality of the lake water is vital for the surrounding rural and urban communities for proper and safe use of the lake. The present study was designed to determine the water quality status of the lake for multiple designated water uses by employing the water quality index. To assess the status water samples were collected in monthly intervals for a period of three months from December to February (dry period), 2011/12. From all water quality parameters analyzed turbidity, Mn, Na+, K+, F-, PO43-, total coliform and fecal coliform were higher than the recommended limits of national and international standards for designated water uses. Based on the water quality index calculation the lake water is categorized under marginal category which reveals the water is frequently threatened and impaired and as well departs from natural condition. Accordingly the lake water is under fair category for irrigation and aquatic life; however, it needs great care on selection of crops and soil condition. The lake is under higher risk by deleterious anthropogenic activities on watershed and it needs mitigation measures to prevent it from further deterioration.
Key words: Water quality index, Lake Hawassa, water quality status, designated water use
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