After collecting water we tested various contaminates that are unsafe at certain levels. Below includes our observations, method of testing, results, analysis and conclusions.
1. Water looks clean when running through the river, but when collected in a clean, white bucket the water is pretty turbid.
2. Water is more turbid when using the small bucket the Tibetan family uses to scoop water from their tap.
Method of Testing
The best testing equipment we could bring was a simple, drinking water safety test and an E. coli test. Below are the results of the simple, drinking water safety test. The E. coli test had to be thrown out due to insufficient incubation that led to faulty tests.
All parameters were deemed safe to drink.
From the test results, the river water is safe to drink. Through observation, though, we know that it contains a sufficient amount of turbidity to cause health issues such as stomach aches and diarrhea.
One thing we found interesting while testing was the absence of nitrates. Yak and sheep roam the grassy lands of Tibet, we thought for sure there would be traces of fece bacteria in the water. Two observations after having lived in Tibet for a week that might justify this result are: 1. Tibetans use yak dung as fuel for fire so a lot of it is collected and stored at the homes of the Tibetans. and 2. There is a lot of grassy, mountainous land for the cattle to roam that the probability of any type of cattle leaving feces behind near or in the river is very small.
While the simple, water quality safety test may be highly inaccurate the results aren’t unbelievingly ideal. The only source of water is from the snowcaps, and no other contamination besides natural contamination occurs in the Tibetan rivers since it’s the highest place to live on Earth.
Also, if no colonies were able to form in the Petri dishes of the E. coli test, then it may be possible that the weather is too cold for any E. coli to survive in the river water thus making the river water free of E. coli.