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Contamination Level -Ground and Surface Water in Nigeria

Contamination Level of Ground and Surface Water in Nigeria –A Case of Warri and Environs

(Evaluation of the Physico-Chemical and Microbial Qualities of Ground and Surface Water in Nigeria –A Case of Warri and Environs)




Water is the most common liquid on our planet, vital to life forms. Water can be said to purely pure by some people but water is never entirely 100% pure. It inevitably carries traces of other substances-various organic compound, particles, gases, minerals and ions which impart to its physical, chemical and bacteriological characteristics. (Ibitoye 2012). The total water on Earth is enormous 1.5×1018 metric tons. This is a quantity that is 300 times larger than the mass of the entire atmosphere (Ademoroti, 1996). If it were possible to distribute this amount equally among all the 5.5 billion human being alive today, each person would possess as much as 280 million metric tons of water. He could use as much as 11,000 metric tons each day of his life and yet not run out. Abruptly, this is not the case. Most of the water is not accessible – it is in ice-caps, oceans, in underground aquifers (ground water-bearing beds) and some are even in the air as moisture. Only a small fraction is on the Earth surface and directly accessible to man as rivers, streams and springs, (Ayoade P.A 2012).

In the cities of Nigeria, with our utmost citation of Warri, Delta state, the above phenomenon is more pronounced. The various components of the natural environment (eg soil, water and air) are often adversely affected by some human activities. There is increasing concern that the environment in which we live today-the air we breath, the food we eat, the water we drink, even the sound that assail us has the potential of endangering human health and general well being. The environment is left devasted and human health is grossly endangered in areas where the components-air, water and land are grossly impaired. This impairment is what is referred to as pollution or degradation. Which implies a reduction in the quality of the components of the environment as a result of the introduction of impurities or contaminants directly or indirectly by human, plant or even animals. The major proportion of groundwater quality degradation is due to antropogenic influences such as domestic or municipal waste, hazardous water, sewage treatment plants, incinerators, industrial and agricultural waste. The quality of water as observed by Todd (1980) is a vital as its quantity.

The quality of a given water is continuously changing as a result of the reaction of water with contact media and human activities. The water quantity refers to its physical, chemical and biological characteristics, which can be determined by comparing results of test and characteristics of the water with acceptable standards (such as WHO, FEPA) for drinking water. Hence, here we will be comparing some surface and ground water samples.


The fact that water is never 100% pure is now generally accepted. Hence, the WHO and FEPA have provided us with a limit standard test for water. So the objective of this study is to ascertain the pollution level values in both surface and ground waters of Warri, Delta state as compared with the WHO and FEPA acceptable values. Its effects on human, animal and even plants, having known that due to huge crude oil deposit in the area, the area is faced with a lot of environmental exploitation and degradation


Warri is a major oil city in Delta State, Nigeria; with a population of over 300,000 people according to the national population figures for 2006. The people of Warri are mainly the Urhobos, Isokos, Itsekiris and Ijaws, but other ethnic groups also live within the city. Warri sits on the bank of the Nigeria Delta and has a modern seaport which serves as the cargo transit point between the Niger River and Atlantic Ocean for import and export. The city history dates back to the 15th century, when its visited by Portuguese Missionaries. The region experiences moderate rainfall and moderate humanity for most part of the year. The climate is equatorial and is marked by two distinct seasons: The dry season and the rainy seasons. The dry season lasts from about November to April and is significantly marked to cool “harmarttan” dusty haze from the north-east winds. The rainy season spans may to October with a brief dry spell in August, but it frequently rains even in dry season. The area is characterized by tropical equatorial climate with mean annual rainfall amount of 2673.8mm. There are high temperatures of 30oc and 37oc. The natural vegetation is of rainforest with swamp forest in some areas. The forest is rich in timber trees, palm trees, as well as fruit trees. The soils are generally, porous, permeable and unconsolidated. The landforms result from the seemingly uncomplicated geologic structure which belongs to Pliocene-Miocene periods. The sedimentary rocks of these periods are classified as Sombrero-Warri Deltaic deposits.


Water is one among the basic necessities for human beings. Any kind of organism needs water as much as food. realizing the significance of water is not really thought, but figuring out its level of quality and variance is very important. Most of us fail to understand the significance of water quality. Quality water is essential and water analysis really helps to expose the users friendliness to water. The grade of water is determined depending on many factors which includes but not limited to the following; Turbidity, Alkalinity, Acidity, Trace element, Micro-organisms present, dissolved solids and oxygen, salinity, presence of phosphates, nitrogen content, types of water; Hard or soft water, minerals and metals present.


It is a well known fact that clean water is absolutely essential for healthy living. Adequate supply of fresh and clean drinking water is a basic need for all human being on the earth. Yet it has been observed that millions of people worldwide are deprived of this. Fresh water resources all over the world are threatened not only by over exploitation and poor management but also by ecological degradation. The main source of fresh water pollution can be attributed to discharge of untreated waste, dumping of industrial effluent and run-off from agricultural fields. Considering the level of industrial growth in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria with our utmost citation at Warri environs, Delta State, occasioned by huge crude oil and gas reserves has had its toil on the environment.

The U.S Department of Energy estimates that since 1960, over four thousand (>4000) oil spills had been recorded thus discharging (Nduka etal) unestimated million barrels of crude oil into the creeks, breaches, streams and rivers of Niger Delta especially in Delta state (Warri in Particular). Surface water and groundwater have often been studied and managed as separate resources, although they are interrelated, in that surface water seeps through the soil and becomes ground water. Conversely, ground water can also feed surface water sources. Surface water includes creeks, lakes and streams, surface water is water found above the earth’s surface. Sources of surface water pollution are generally grouped into two categories based on their origin. The are point sources and non-point sources. Point source; point source water pollution refers to contaminants that enters a waterway from single, identifiable source. While non-point water pollution; refers to defuse contamination that does not originate from a single discrete source.

Ground water on the other hand is water located beneath the earths surface in soil pore space and in the fractures of rock formation. The ability of a water body to support aquatic life as well as its suitability for other uses depends on its pollutant loads and pattern of pollution. Surface water are wide open to flooding which carries various contaminants, in addition to industrial waste, water discharge and effluents from mining operations are major sources of surface water pollution. Even though the ground is an excellent mechanism for filtering out particulate matter, such as leaves ,soil and bugs, dissolved chemical and gas can still occur in large concentrations in ground water to cause problems. When man made products like gasoline and road salts and chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides that many house owners apply to their lawns dissolved into the ground water, they become pollutants. Through water cycle, there is an interaction between atmospheric rains; surface water and ground water, thus through infiltration and seepages, ground waters are affected. We have to remember that since ground water is part of hydrologic cycle, contaminants in other parts of the cycle, such as the atmosphere o bodies of surface water can eventually be transferred into ground water supplies.

Landfills can be another serious source of contamination. Landfills are the places that our garbage is taken to be buried. Landfills are supposed to have a protective bottom layer to prevent contaminants from getting into the water. However, if there is no layer or it is cracked, contaminants from the Landfill (car battery acid, paint, household cleaners, etc) can make way down into the groundwater.

—This article is incomplete———–This article is incomplete———— It was extracted from a well articulated quality Project, Research Work/Material

Project Topic: Contamination Level of Ground and Surface Water in Nigeria –A Case of Warri and Environs

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