The impact of rainfall on drinking water quality in Antananarivo, Madagascar

PLoS One. 2020 Jun 15;15(6):e0218698. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218698. eCollection 2020.


Low-income cities that are subject to high population pressure and vulnerable to climate events often have a low capacity to continuously deliver safe drinking water. Here we reported the results of a 32-year survey on the temporal dynamics of drinking water quality indicators in the city of Antananarivo. We analyzed the long-term evolution of the quality of the water supplied and characterized the interactions between climatic conditions and the full-scale water supply system. A total of 25,467 water samples were collected every week at different points in the supplied drinking water system. Samples were analyzed for total coliforms (TC), Escherichia coli (EC), intestinal Enterococci (IE), and Spores of Sulphite-Reducing Clostridia (SSRC). Nine-hundred-eighty-one samples that were identified as positive for one or more indicators were unevenly distributed over time. The breakpoint method identified four periods when the time series displayed changes in the level and profile of contamination (i) and the monthly pattern of contamination (ii), with more direct effects of rainfall on the quality of supplied drinking water. The modeling showed significantly different lags among indicators of bacteria occurrence after cumulative rainfall, which range from 4 to 8 weeks. Among the effects of low-income urbanization, a rapid demographic transition and the degradation of urban watersheds have gradually affected the quality of the water supplied and resulted in the more direct effects of rainfall events. We focused on the need to adopt an alternative perspective of drinking water and urban watersheds management.

MeSH terms

  • Drinking Water* / chemistry
  • Drinking Water* / microbiology
  • Madagascar
  • Rain*
  • Time Factors
  • Water Pollution
  • Water Quality*


  • Drinking Water

Grant support

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.