Bioremediation of selected drinking water wells in Nawakkaduwa


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Project ID

Project Title

Extension project to effect Bioremediation of selection drinking water wells in Nawakkaduwa through total eco system management Neo Synthesis Research Centre


Water Supply and Sanitation

Focus Areas

Geographic Scope

Lead Organization(s)

Project Partners



Total: $21,487;

Sources of Financing: (CWI-7)


January 2004 - January 2006



Project website(s)





The leaching of agrochemicals into the ground water table has had a significant impact on ground water quality in Sri Lanka. Water sources in the Kalpitiya Peninsula, located on the west coast of Sri Lanka, show high ground water concentrations of nitrate, chloride and potassium. There is a clear correlation between ground water quality and agricultural land-use. A research study conducted by the University of Ruhuna (1995) on the effects of nitrates in drinking water in Kalpitiya showed that 64% of the infants suffered from malnutrition and potential Methaemoglobinaemia. Preliminary surveys conducted by NSRC revealed that 20% of the population was directly affected. The CWI project set out to remediate nitrate pollution in wells through changes in agricultural practice and community awareness.

Project Impacts
  • Bio-remediation of nitrate and Nitrite pollution in 25 drinking water wells in Nawakkaduwa, Mampuri, Daluwa and Nirmalapura villages. Level of nitrates dropped dramatically and the water is now potable, a mere two years later!
  • Present land management practices changed to organic agriculture including the use of diverse tree crops in the landscape design of 25 home gardens.

Additional Info

  • The cost of using modern technologies like ‘reverse osmosis’ to mitigate the contamination of drinking water is beyond the reach of poor countries like Sri Lanka; hence the use of biological means is low cost and affordable.
  • This is the first time that bioremediation has been implemented in Sri Lanka and on such a large scale. This low cost technology is being implemented ‘by the people for the people’. Furthermore, it is now endorsed by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board and will thus be replicated wherever the problem of nitrate/nitrite contamination occurs in Sri Lanka.
  • The work on the bioremediation of water has been carried out in partnership with the National Water Supply and Drainage Board and the beneficiary communities. The Neo Synthesis Research Centre is now extending the technology to other public wells in the Kalpitiya area in keeping with the request of the Kalpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha (Local Government) who greatly supports the Project.
  • The project has built capacity within its staff, the beneficiaries, local government and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board by creating awareness on the problem and the means to rectify it.
  • The type of restoration implemented will, in addition to purifying the water, provide income, food, medicine, fuel wood and a host of other benefits. It will also increase habitat for biodiversity. The fact that the local government requests for the extension of the work to other areas in the peninsula is a singular sign of success in terms of its replicability.

Expected Outcomes

Achievements: Results and Impact

Lessons for Replication

  • The greatest challenge posed for a project of this nature is the conversion of conventional agriculture into one that is ecologically sustainable. The difficulty is magnified by the promotion of the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. People have gotten used to the easy application of agrochemicals to grow their crops even though they know that the chemicals contaminate their drinking water source. The problem is exacerbated by the free and uncontrolled sale of dangerous agrochemicals that have a persistent life in the water source.
  • The technology, on the other hand, is simple and highly effective. It is low cost and provides additional benefits. Further it can be implemented anywhere by anyone and is viable both on a small or large scale.
  • Community awareness is the key to success. Monthly meetings were held with the farmers/beneficiaries to monitor and evaluate the work done in the past month, draw up the activity plan for the next month and to provide a platform for discussing whatever problems people encountered.


See also

  1. Water supply scheme for community in Sri Pada Area
  2. Water supply for the Boralugoda village community, Sri Lanka
  3. Uplifting the livelihood of Moragammana Village community through rain water harvesting
  4. Uplift the livelihood condition of Eppawala Grama Niladhari Division Community by providing safe drinking water by Community Development Centre, Aranayaka.
  5. Sustainable development of rural economy through mitigation of water scarcity in dry zone, Sri Lanka
  6. Rehabilitation of Delgaslanda Water Project to provide Water for the Community and restoration of other Small Water Sources in the Area by Sri Dheerananda Savings and Credit Society Organization
  7. Public Vs Private in Water Provision:Encouraging Case of Sri Lanka
  8. Provision of water through construction of small scale reservoir and a canal system in Siriyagama, Sri Lanka
  9. Marginalising the Poorest: Case of Badowita, Sri Lanka
  10. Conservation of water in home gardens through renovation small scale of ponds, Sri Lanka
  11. Community watershed management and rainwater harvesting using ancient irrigation technologies and Community managed protected area conservation in Sigiriya World Heritage site
  12. Community Empowerment through water and sanitation, Sri Lanka

External Resources


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