The challenge of achieving safely managed drinking water supply on San Cristobal island, Galápagos

Alyssa M. Grube, Jill R. Stewart, Valeria Ochoa-Herrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 centers on the availability of a safely managed drinking water source for all. However, meeting the criteria for this goal is challenging on island systems and elsewhere with limited freshwater supplies. We measured microbial and chemical water quality over three years on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, an island with limited freshwater supply, necessitating use of cisterns or roof tanks to ensure water availability in households. Our results showed that the municipal water treatment plants generally produced high quality drinking water but detection of Escherichia coli in 2–30% of post-treatment distribution samples suggests contamination and/or regrowth during distribution and storage. Linear regression revealed a modest, negative relationship between residual chlorine and microbial concentrations in drinking water samples, while 24-h antecedent rainfall only slightly increased microbial counts. Taken together, our results underscore the challenge of providing a safely managed drinking water source where limited freshwater quantities result in intermittent flow and require storage at the household level. Efforts to meet sustainable development goals for island systems will likely need to consider water availability for any treatment technologies or programs aimed at meeting water quality goals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113547
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Freshwater management
  • Island sustainability
  • Sustainable development goals
  • Water quality
  • Water storage
  • Water supply


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