This study was conducted to assess the quality of ground water in Area 25, a typical urban residential area in Malawi. Samples were collected from wells and analyzed for physicochemical and bacteriological parameters following standard methods. Results were compared to the Malawi Standards (MS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water quality guidelines. The overall water quality index was computed to ascertain the general quality of the water. Levels of pH, phosphates, sulfates, arsenic, lead, and potassium were below the guideline limits while, Electrical conductivity, total dissolved solids, chlorides, fluorides, nitrates, total hardness, calcium and magnesium were observed above permissible limits, posing a health risk to the residents. The quality index ranged from 22 (excellent quality) to 64 (Poor quality) with an average of 41 (good quality). Fecal coliforms were present in 70% of the sampled locations with an average of 7.9 cfu/100ml. The presence of these bacteria presents serious risk for waterborne disease outbreaks. This study, therefore, recommends provision of basic treatment techniques to improve the quality of water in the area before consumption, regular monitoring of groundwater resources and proper design and sitting of septic systems.
Keywords: urban, groundwater, Malawi, Lilongwe, Water quality