Water borne diseases and heavy metal poisoning as a result of poor quality of portable water has been of a major public health concern in Nigeria. The quality of portable water in Enugu, a fast growing and population expanding city calls for a general concern. Hence, this study was aimed to ascertain the quality of portable water sources in Enugu metropolis. A total of twelve water samples were randomly collected and analysed for the physicochemical parameters, heavy metals and faecal contaminants. The samples were odourless without colour but a few showed high levels of calcium and magnesium hardness. The total hardness was within the WHO and Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) permissible level. The pH was low (2.0 to 6.3) and not within the WHO permissible level (6.5 to 8.5) but the acidity which ranged from 0.1 to 0.6 mg/L was within the acceptable range. Copper, lead and cadmium were present in a few samples but the level was beyond the tolerated limits of NIS and WHO for one sample contaminated with lead (0.29 mg/L) and two samples with cadmium (0.351 and 0.004 mg/L). Lactose fermenter was present in one sample and was confirmed to be a coliform (Gram negative bacilli). In all, portable water in Enugu is relatively safe and fit for consumption as the level of heavy metal and microbial contamination was low. However, there is need for regular quality control monitoring of portable water to minimize the risk of related health consequences due to heavy metal and microbial contamination. This will partly contribute towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal objective of making available quality portable water to the society.
Key words: Portable water, physiochemical, heavy metal, Enugu, coliform, contamination.
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