An Increase in the Efficiency of WaterSupply Quality Surveillance through an Easy Bacterial Test Kit
Provincial Waterworks Authority

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The water supply is a basic infrastructure which is essential for human beings’ hygiene and livelihood. Consequently, there has to be the monitoring and control of the water supply production in every step in order to get the quality water supply that is clean and safe for consumption. It is particularly crucial to monitor the water quality in terms of coliform bacteria. If coliform bacteria is found in water, this indicates that there is the contamination of other types of bacteria as well, which cause diseases and have an impact on the hygiene of the people. This may be found in the sickness incurred by numerous diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, cholera, etc. In case there is no control of these diseases, there will be a violent spreading of water-borne diseases. Currently, the situation and the environment of the world have witnessed tremendous changes, caused by both the nature and human beings themselves, creating such unusual conditions as floods, leakage of chemicals or toxins, sabotages or biological warfare. During such crises there is a high risk in the provision of the water supply service. There is probably an unanticipated case in which the water supply will be contaminated in respect of bacteria. There may be an immense impact which causes tremendous damage, resulting in the huge death toll that is out of control. This will inevitably affect all areas, which is due to the problem of public hygiene. The Provincial Waterworks Authority of Thailand (PWA) has the monitoring of its water supply quality in terms of bacteria so as to evaluate the efficiency of the disinfection system in the production process to ensure that PWA’s water supply distributed to the people is clean and safe and lives up to WHO standard, which defines that coliform bacteria must not be found in the water produced. This has been tested in PWA’s 11 laboratories which have adequate tools and equipment, including specialized personnel. In this connection, it has been found that over 500 PWA branches and service units cannot conduct a bacterial test and have to collect the water supply samples and then deliver them to a laboratory far away. A number of PWA branches are in remote areas and far away from a laboratory. Additionally, it normally takes time for the transportation of these samples and waiting for test results. This, of course, prevents PWA from sufficiently increasing the frequency and expanding the area of comprehensive monitoring and surveillance of its treated water, coupled with a hindrance of wrong attitude of the people concerned, who think that the water supply with residual chorine does not have germs. PWA has developed the system of surveillance of its water supply quality in terms of bacteria by using an easy-to-use bacterial test kit and increasing the frequency and extending the area of strict surveillance. Without this process, during the crisis the damage will not be limited only to the livelihood of the people, but it will finally become the damage of the country.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
PWA takes charge of providing the water supply service for public consumption in Thailand. PWA has a total of 234 branches under its supervision and another 357 service units, totaling 591 water utilities scattering across the country. Meanwhile, PWA has 11 laboratories for the water quality test, scattering throughout the country, consisting of 1 lab at PWA headquarters and 10 labs in the region. There is an inspection and control of water quality in physical, chemical, microbiological and toxic aspects. Regarding the monitoring of water quality in terms of coliform bacteria, PWA has utilized the method of Multiple-Tube MPN Tests, which are standards of APHA, AWWA and WEF. However, 11 laboratories are not enough to service through all PWA service area especially remote area. Consequently, all the staff of PWA’s 11 laboratories across the country have had a brainstorming session to initiate a project on “An Increase in the Efficiency of Water Supply Quality Surveillance through an Easy Bacterial Test Kit”, which is aimed at raising the efficiency of water quality surveillance in respect of bacteria, both at normal and critical time, in order to sustainably protect the people’s quality of life. In this regard, 3 significant strategies have been mapped out as the following: 1. Creating a system of surveillance of the water supply quality in terms of bacteria The Division of Water Quality Control at PWA headquarters has made an analysis of data of the water quality with respect to bacteria, and made a comparison of PWA’s approaches with those of other agencies, including having a brainstorm session of scientists of the Division, PWA branches and regional offices, apart from compiling knowledge from various sources. This aims to find a proper formula for germ-nurturing food through a test both inside the laboratory and in the field. This has been carried out until an adequately efficient test kit is derived and can be used to test outside a laboratory, while the test result may be obtained within 24 hours. The generated test kit is easy to use as well as convenient, economical, accurate and reliable. PWA has also assigned all of its branches and service units to apply this easy-to-use test kit to test coliform bacteria in the water supply by themselves both at normal and critical time, along with collecting water samples and sending them for a test in a laboratory. Besides, PWA has collaborated with the public and the private sector, schools and the public to form a network of water quality surveillance, which helps reduce the government’s burden of taking care of the public medical welfare while water users have clean and safe water for consumption. 2. Generating knowledge and good attitude for using and providing the water supply service through transferring the knowledge of water quality surveillance in terms of bacteria to operators and other people concerned by writing a handbook for operations, holding workshops for PWA branches and disseminating data of these the activities in PWA website, participating in technical exhibitions on various occasions, apart from steadily making public relations to both PWA’s work units and other agencies to keep informed of the data of PWA’s operating performance. 3. Developing a system of supporting the follow-up, as well as reporting the test results and evaluating the water quality through preparing the information technology (IT) system for recording, monitoring and processing of the data of the coliform bacterial test result so as to be used as the database for managing and developing the water quality, including an integration with other activities.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
In 2010, PWA branches had used an easy test kit (easy-to-use test kit) to test coliform bacteria, in parallel with collecting water samples and sending them for tests in a laboratory. Furthermore, PWA, in cooperation with external agencies, has established a network of water quality surveillance and found that an increase in the efficiency of water supply quality surveillance through an easy bacterial test kit has the following obvious advantages: Easy to use and convenient, not require staff with specific knowledge Save costs, operating cost decreased by 99 percent from the conventional Fast to get the result, the testing time has diminished by 72 hours Increase the frequency and the number of samples, increase number of testing by 130 percent form earlier Have a supporting system, provide system to record, monitor and processing the result to report and evaluate the test result Establish collaboration, extending the operating consequence to the public and private agencies, local administration organizations, schools and the public that support and encourage an inspection of the water supply quality.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
PWA has defined its action plan for an implementation of the strategy in 3 phases described below. Initial Phase – Constructing an easy bacterial test kit In 2008, there was a brainstorm of PWA’s scientists from all its 11 laboratories, collectively helping plan on an analysis of data of both internal and external agencies in order to prepare for an easy bacterial test kit. This was carried out by trying to find an appropriate germ-nurturing food formula and study the sensitivity of the germ-nurturing food formula suitable for an examination of germs of coliform bacteria groups in the different number of cells, besides comparing the efficiency of the easy bacterial test kit and that of Multiple-Tube MPN Tests. Such a test kit has been used in the area of 10 PWA branches, totaling 100 samples. It has been found that the bacterial test kit constructed can be well applied and has coherent testing results of 97.0 percent. In 2009, PWA had transferred the knowledge in using the test kit to its staff by publishing a handbook of how to use an easy bacterial test kit, apart from holding seminars and workshops to provide knowledge and understanding of how to use the test kit to PWA staff concerned who were working at PWA regional offices and branches across the country so that they could use the test kit to monitor the quality of the water supply at the normal time, ranging from the water production station to the distribution system, including publicizing it on PWA’s website. Phase of Development to Increase the Efficiency of Operation Between 2010 and 2011, PWA had initiated the project of an easy bacterial test kit improvement to enable all PWA branches to continuously use the test kit, which was done by a questionnaire survey of the satisfaction of those using the bacterial test kit, and making a report on the result of a water quality test. There was a seminar of scientists, engineers and operators, during annual seminar to disseminate data and propose a guideline for enhancing the efficiency of branches’ production system and also make an adjustment of the attitude of the staff using it. Phase of Work Extension Since 2012, PWA has extended the use of its easy bacterial test kit to communities, schools, local administration organizations, the private sector, aimed at creating a network of water quality surveillance through the test kit. This practice has been based on the cooperation of PWA staff working both at PWA headquarters in Bangkok and in the region, disseminating knowledge and understanding of how to use the easy bacterial test kit, besides demonstrating how to use it on sites, too. In 2013, PWA’s crisis recovery team used the bacteria test kit to take a close watch at the quality of the water supply during disasters such as floods and epidemics. Meanwhile, PWA has established its Data Center in support of the recording of water quality data, analysis, follow-up, monitoring, evaluation and making a summary report by all 11 PWA’s laboratories. In 2014, to confirm that the use of its easy bacterial test kit is in accordance with the standard approach applied in modern laboratories, PWA, in collaboration with the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological research (TISTR), has correlated its bacterial test kit. Furthermore, PWA has also integrated its surveillance of the water quality in the distribution system with other parameters such as pH, turbidity and chorine in order to be able to clearly make an assessment of the overall water supply quality, which supports the consequence of PWA’s process of clean water management.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Stakeholders are classified into 2 groups as follows: Stakeholders within PWA PWA’s Management is in charge of defining PWA’s vision and mapping out operating strategies of the agency to achieve the established goal of “Customers are delighted with the quality of water and excellent service”, apart from defining the Road Map to orient all PWA’s staff to move to the same goal, namely, PWA’s water supply has good quality and lives up to WHO standard. Moreover, PWA’s management has set aside a special budget for this project. Operators in Laboratories are responsible for mapping out plans for the project implementation and supervision to ensure that the project is continuously implemented, all carried out by 1) brainstorming for preparing and constructing an easy bacterial test kit, 2) writing a handbook for operation , 3) disseminating the method of using the test kit, 4) following up and generating a system for an analysis and processing of data for PWA branches across the country, including closely following up the operating consequences, and 5) proposing an approach for improving and developing a work process relating to the use of the test kit and its users’ attitude. In addition, a public relations campaign has been continuously launched to allow all stakeholders to realize the advantage and value of the consequence of the implementation of the test kit. Operators of PWA Branches use the easy bacterial test kit in the water production and distribution process before distribution to PWA’s customers’ homes in order to make a surveillance of the water quality in terms of bacteria. Stakeholders outside PWA Government Agencies / Communities / Business Partners / Industries have formed a network of surveillance of the water supply quality through an easy bacterial test kit project, to enhance the public confidence in water consumption.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The construction of the prototype of an easy bacterial test kit has to use the following resources. Financial Aspect PWA supports the budget for an investigation of novel innovations in support of its staff’s work performance and development of the quality of its service for the public, focusing on developing innovations that are easy to use, save the cost of implementation and increase productivity in order to be able to solve the problems which have a high risk to the quality of the service which is relevant to PWA’s service missions of which the area is mostly in the rural region. PWA has also allocated the budget for purchasing chemicals, germ-nurturing food substance, bottles and covers, containers and packaging, including the budget for traveling for field trips or site visits to collect water samples and conduct an experiment on an easy bacterial test kit at PWA branches scattering throughout the country. Personnel Aspect PWA has supported its staff in terms of the training so as to enhance their knowledge and skills in different fields, including an exchange of knowledge and brainstorming of scientists at PWA headquarters and in the region, and from external agencies, apart from various groups of other professions. There is also a review and compilation of knowledge body from numerous sources for an invention of an easy bacteria test kit and using it to improve the efficiency of the water supply quality surveillance. Technical Aspect PWA has applied the knowledge of an analysis of the amount of coliform bacteria germs, which is an examination of coliform bacteria germs through the multiple tube method, based on the principle of the ability to digest food substance to generate gas in food tubes, from the number of tubes which yields positive result (Positive:+) of each of the dilution and then the values in the MPN index table (Most Probable Number index) are read, which is the average value of the amount of coliform bacteria that is expected to have the largest amount in the samples inspected. The values in the MPN index table are statistical analysis values which are statistical estimate of the amount of coliform bacteria that is likely to be detected in water (Most Probable Number per 100 ml of samples), which is the method appropriate for detecting the amount of coliform bacteria in different types of water such as drinking water, surface water, sea water and so on, and takes between 3 and 5 days for the test. PWA’s laboratories have applied this guideline to its study and experiment to find a proper germ-nurturing food formula with an aim to derive a test method which is easy to use and know the result of a preliminary coliform bacterial test quickly.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
An implementation of “An increase in the efficiency of water supply quality surveillance through an easy bacterial test kit” project has started since 2008 and it has been found that the outputs of this project which support the achievement of project implementation include the following. There have been easy bacterial test kits used at PWA branches across the country to know the consequence of the test rapidly while increasing the test frequency in parallel with a test of standard approach. PWA has a system of water supply quality surveillance in terms of bacteria both at normal and critical time, which is supplementarily used for water quality surveillance at the maximum level of crisis such as during the flood, epidemic, drought, etc. PWA has a network of water quality surveillance by jointly implementing the project on “Old bottles in exchange for new ones” with the private sector and the public, for instance, disseminating an easy bacterial test kit to schools in the service area of PWA branches so that they can make an experiment on the test kit until they are confident that the water has good quality and is hygienic and safe for drinking, aimed at raising a good attitude among young students, which makes an implementation of water quality surveillance go on steadily and sustainably. Moreover, PWA’s agencies and other agencies can use this as a guideline or apply such the principle to the work of the same characteristic. PWA branches can test coliform bacteria by themselves and can increase the frequency and number of samples all the time as needed, causing consumers to feel confident in water quality like the water quality of drinking-water production factories. Furthermore, PWA operators both at its headquarters and in the region have a better attitude and accept the testing approach using an easy bacterial test kit for a surveillance of the safety of the water supply, while extending the monitoring of the coliform bacterial test along with other parameters, for example, chorine, turbidity, pH, etc. PWA has a data center in support of PWA’s branches. Operators of PWA’s laboratories are able to follow up and check data as well as analyze and evaluate the overall quality of water so that there are the same guideline and standard for water quality analysis, leading to sustainable management and development of water quality in the future.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
PWA has assigned its branches throughout the country to report the result of the water quality test in terms of bacteria in accordance with the form defined, while having to report the consequence of use of the test kit and daily report the result of water quality monitoring. In this regard, the location, date and time of water sample collection have to be identified. For a test result, it has to say whether coliform bacteria has been found or not. Meanwhile, the test result has to be recorded in the water quality information system or data center and PWA regional offices will inspect the accuracy and completeness of data in order that the concerned department at PWA headquarters will present it to PWA’s management to be used to follow up and assess the overall water quality and problem encountered and the limitations of the test kit implementation. Besides, there is an annual meeting of PWA’s scientists each year to follow up the consequence of use of the water quality test kit in respect of bacteria. PWA regional offices and the water quality control division at the headquarters will follow up and analyze the data and make a monthly evaluation in the data center to prevent an occurrence of the problem or immediately solve the problem found. Apart from this, PWA also makes an assessment of the water quality inspection in the service area via its easy bacterial test kit, while defining the test kit as an indicator in the Water Safety Plan project, which is PWA’s significant index. Meanwhile, there is a transfer of this indicator to all PWA’s staff at all levels, which is another method making all staff cooperate in pushing forward PWA’s missions in the same direction in order to fulfill the agency’s goals.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
For an initial stage of using an easy bacterial test kit, it could not be simultaneously implemented by all 234 PWA branches because each branch had lots of work to do, while having limited personnel and equipment. For this reason, only PWA branches which had a high risk had will be implemented the test kit. Subsequently, deficient resources were continuously added to the branches that required them until all 234 PWA branches could implement the easy bacterial test kit invented. Due to an incomplete collection of data for an evaluation of the overall water quality, coupled with the unconnected database of water quality, PWA has developed the above system along with applying an easy bacterial test kit at all its branches. At the initial phase, PWA’s staff stills not enough knowledge of how to use the test kit. Therefore, PWA had to fulfill the necessary knowledge before transfer the method of testing to the staff through a handbook for operation, training and disseminating the handbook contents on PWA’s website. Easy testing of bacteria previously emphasized an increase in the efficiency of only PWA’s water supply quality surveillance in terms of bacteria, and thus lacked cooperation from other agencies outside PWA. PWA has fully realized this shortcoming and later, in collaboration with the public and the private sector and schools, has established a network for water quality surveillance which covers all PWA’s service areas, including an integration of this project with other PWA’s activities.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The achievements and advantages obtained from an implementation of the project on an increase in the efficiency of water supply quality surveillance through an easy bacterial test kit are summarized below. Benefits to the Public and Stakeholders The public and communities can make a surveillance of the water quality themselves and can drink good quality water from the tap, which makes them have better quality of life through the consumption of clean water. Similarly, this has generated worthiness and advantages of use of resources, while reducing the people’s sickness and death caused by water-borne diseases. Additionally, the public sector can save the budget and decrease expenses for medical treatment fees of its people. For the private and the industrial sector, the effect of unclean water consumption may be reduced. With the benefit of Easy Bacterial Test Kit, the public are satisfied with PWA’s water quality. Based on a survey of customers’ satisfaction conducted by an independent and trustworthy agency in year 2011 and 2014, the survey result presented PWA’s service satisfaction score in the topic of water quality, and overall service satisfaction score to increase from 63.40% to 77.20% and from 68.40% to 81.60%, respectively. Benefits to PWA PWA can constantly use its easy bacterial test kit to enhance the efficiency of the water quality surveillance both at the normal and critical period, along with the standard method, in which the water quality can be tested from the water production station to the customers’ homes. If the contamination is found, it can be immediately solved, while the frequency of testing and the number of water samples can be increased. PWA can save the costs, human resources, equipment and food substance and can also reduce the steps and time of testing and delivery of water supply samples due to an easy, convenient and inexpensive use of the bacterial test kit, from which users don’t have to possess the expertise and the result of testing is quick and accurate. PWA can proactively raise the efficiency of the water quality surveillance which covers all water distribution areas by depending on the network of water quality surveillance, whether they are the public and the private sector, industries, sub-district administration organizations and schools. Meanwhile, there is an integration of this approach with the monitoring of water quality via other parameters such as pH, turbidity, chorine, etc. PWA has data confirming its water quality in terms of safety which passes WHO’s standard, and the data of water quality can be analyzed and evaluated in order to solve and prevent the problem that may take place both currently and in the future.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
To make this project sustainable, PWA has written a handbook for monitoring bacteria in the water supply and delivered the handbook to all PWA branches and service units so that they can accurately test the bacteria in water by themselves while using the same testing standard, ranging from collecting water samples and testing, to eliminating the food substance after it has been used, aimed at not causing an impact on the environment. In addition, there has been training of staff on the preparation of germ-nurturing food bottles with an aim to enable the staff of PWA regional offices 1 to 10 to prepare germ-nurturing food and send it to PWA branches under their supervision. A demonstration of how to use an easy bacterial test kit has been done for all 10 regional offices to ensure that they understand it and are able to do it themselves. To enable the public to consume clean and safe water, PWA’s easy bacterial test kit may be disseminated to other agencies that need it, for example, the water supply system of communities and the private sector, industries across Thailand or AEC countries, which are also confronted with the problem of the water quality inspection like PWA, and have no laboratory at site that can make a continuous and adequate analysis of bacteria. To solve such a problem, these agencies or countries may apply the guideline for using an easy bacterial test kit for the surveillance of water quality at the normal time or temporarily solve the problem during the critical time such as floods, epidemics and so on. Additionally, PWA has also promoted the easy bacterial test kit by training the knowledge of how to use an easy bacterial test kit to schools based on the “Monitoring drinking water for our good brothers and sisters” project and the “Schools save water” project so that they become members of PWA’s network of water quality surveillance. So far, PWA has continuously allocated a budget in support of an extension of use of an easy bacterial test kit and publicized in PWA website at http:/wqc.pwa.co.th for other agencies to study in order to apply the benefits of the “Increasing the efficiency of the water supply quality surveillance in terms of bacteria through an easy bacterial test kit” project to their work performance or use it as a prototype for their invention of a similar tool. This project had been awarded “The PWA’s Innovation Award” for 2013 and “The Excellent Service Innovation Award” for 2014 (good level) by the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPDC).

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Based on an implementation of the “Increasing the efficiency of water supply quality surveillance in terms of bacteria through an easy bacterial test kit” project, PWA has learned the problem caused by an evaluation of the efficiency of water quality control with respect to bacteria and fully realized that PWA still has to develop and improve its easy bacterial test kit for greater potential. In this regard, PWA has established goals, planned and considered its readiness for personnel and expertise needed, along with tacit knowledge of staff concerned with the development of the easy bacterial test kit, which has been experimented on PWA’s branches’ water production system and evaluated for its accuracy, appropriateness and benefits derived. Finally, this has been concluded as PWA’s new knowledge body and a handbook for an implementation of the invented test kit has been written and disseminated to PWA regional offices and branches for efficient use. Using an easy bacterial test kit to improve the efficiency of the water quality control in terms of bacteria allows PWA’s staff concerned to have data certifying the quality of water that is clean and safe and lives up to WHO standard. Apart from helping create worthiness of reducing costs and resources, save time and increase productivity in respect of water quality control, an easy bacterial test kit also benefits the organization, customers, society and the nation in that water consumers get clean water and have confidence in water quality, which responds to their satisfaction and goes in accordance with the objectives of the agencies supervising PWA to take charge of a water supply service of high quality for public consumption, and helps the public to have good and sustainable hygiene. Extending use of an easy bacterial test kit to local governments and schools is collaboration in the surveillance of water quality to guarantee water cleanness and safety for drinking, which is people’s basic need that is essential for human beings’ health and livelihood. This not only raises the public’s quality of life but also indicates the development and prosperity of the country as well. Currently, PWA has cooperated with external agencies for further research and development of an easy bacterial test kit with an aim to design and invent a container which is environment friendly, easy to use, convenient and safe. Similarly, after the container is used, it can be safely eradicated without causing contamination to the environment. Besides, the easy bacterial test kit produced will be further improved for higher efficiency, which takes less time to test and yields a more rapid test result, aimed at eliminating or solving the problem of bacterial contamination in due course, making it possible for the public to consume water which is of high standard, clean and safe for their health.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Provincial Waterworks Authority
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Miss Supansa Samart
Title:   Head of corporate operational evaluation section  
Telephone/ Fax:   +(66) 2-551-8429/ +(66) 2-552-6039
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   supansamart@gmail.com  
Address:   72 SoiChaengwattana 1 Chaengwattana Road
Postal Code:   10210
City:   Laksi District
State/Province:   Bangkok
Country:  

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