• Gabriella Richardson

Runoff Water Quality in the Bumbu Watershed, Papua New Guinea – MDF Research

Image source: click here

With the establishment of an increasing number of industries, growing settlement populations, unregulated urban expansion and deforestation, water resources in the Lae region of the Morobe province have come under dire stress (Kaupa, 2012; Post Courier, 2016). Consequently, it has become necessary to study how various land use patterns and landscape features can influence the Bumbu river and its water quality, the waters of which serve as a lifeline for the people residing in the watershed. With this context in mind, the Morobe Development Foundation with the help of UN Volunteers and scholars across the globe (Willie Doaemo, Papua New Guinea University of Technology; Lawrence Wuest, United Nations Volunteer; Shaurya Bajaj, United Nations Volunteer; Wan Shafrina Wan Mohd Jaafar, National University of Malaysia ; Midhun “Mikey” Mohan, University of California) have conducted the research study titled, “Analytical Protocol to Estimate the Relative Importance of Environmental and Anthropogenic Factors in Influencing Runoff Quality in the Bumbu Watershed, Papua New Guinea”.

There have been various factors in the backdrop which made it exigent for MDF to take up a study on the above lines. Reports indicate that thousands of families in settlement the communities of Igman, Taraka and Bumbu along the river do not have a treated water supply and adequate toilet facilities (Kaupa, 2012). Therefore, they have been using Bumbu river water as a source of drinking water, for cooking, laundry, a place to wash themselves and defecate (Post Courier 2016; Kaupa 2012). Waste from nearby industrial businesses has also been dumped into this same water source, having devastating effects on water quality. Consequently, due to increasing settlement populations along the river and pollutants, waterborne diseases and child mortality rates have increased and sparked concern (Kaupa 2012).

In this study, MDF volunteer researchers created a protocol for measurement of factor runoff and its influence at several sampling sites located throughout the river basin. Factors selected in this study include rainfall patterns and multiple land-use/land-cover classes (presence of habitation/settlement, semi urban, and highly urban environments; different levels of vegetation including dense forest, regenerating forest & green space). Available Geographic Information System (GIS) inputs and methodologies were used to assess the factors mentioned, such as aerial images from satellites, digital elevation models, spatial classification and interpolation techniques. This study suggests that water quality may be influenced by pollutants, geochemical and other natural inputs. For the region, the work is first of its type and will be valuable when researchers conduct a thorough water quality study to understand the relationship between the water of the basin, its inhabitants, socio-economic factors, physicochemical properties and water, sanitation and hygiene characteristics.

Image: "Position of 22 water sampling sites, Bumbu river main channel and other relevant sites of interest in the Bumbu Watershed" (click here for source)

'With inputs of UN Volunteer Shaurya Bajaj (shauryabajaj1@gmail.com)'


Doaemo, W.; Wuest, L.; Bajaj, S.; Jaafar, W.S.W.M.; Mohan, M. Analytical Protocol to Estimate the Relative Importance of Environmental and Anthropogenic Factors in Influencing Runoff Quality in the Bumbu Watershed, Papua New Guinea. Hydrology 2020, 7, 77. https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology7040077

Post Courier. “Bumbu River a Threat to Lae City Residents,” May 4, 2016. https://postcourier.com.pg/bumbu-river-a-threat-to-lae-city-residents/.

Kaupa, Clement. “Water Unsafe for Settlers along Bumbu River.” The National (blog), December 16, 2012. https://www.thenational.com.pg/water-unsafe-for-settlers-along-bumbu-river/.


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