Water Quality, Exposure and Health

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 183–195 | Cite as

Relationship Between Coliform Bacteria and Water Chemistry in Groundwater Within Gold Mining Environments in Ghana

  • Frederick Ato ArmahEmail author


As in many developing countries, the disease burden from the lack of biologically or chemically safe drinking water is a continuing problem in Ghana. Shallow hand-dug wells and deep boreholes constitute the rural drinking water supply. This is particularly the case in gold mining environments where surface water is commonly contaminated with metalloids and heavy metals. Groundwater samples from 738 wells or boreholes in mining (\(n\,=\,518\)) and non-mining areas (controls, \(n\,=\,220\)) were collected and analyzed to examine the relationship between Escherichia coli (E. coli) and total coliform bacteria, and characteristics such as pH, electrical conductivity, turbidity, total dissolved solids, nitrates, As, Cd, Fe, Mn, and Pb. E. coli and total coliform bacteria, respectively, were detected in 36 and 204 of the 518 groundwater samples in mining locations. E. coli and total coliform bacteria were not detected in any of the groundwater samples collected in non-mining locations. Regression analysis showed that electrical conductivity, As, Cd, Fe, and Pb were significant predictors of E. coli in groundwater in mining areas. Also, regression analysis showed that pH, electrical conductivity, total dissolved solids, turbidity, nitrates, As, and Cd were significant predictors of total coliform bacteria in mining areas. This study demonstrates the need to promptly identify and remediate groundwater sources of drinking water in gold mining communities that potentially have a high risk of disease. It also shows the usefulness of statistical models as tools for guiding local authorities to prevent groundwater contamination.


Microbes Drinking water quality  Gold mining Modeling Heavy metals Ghana 



I wish to thank Emily Catherine Eyles of the Department of Geography, The University of Western Ontario, Canada for reading through the draft manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of Cape CoastCape CoastGhana
  2. 2.Environmental Health and Hazards Laboratory, Department of GeographyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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