Many communities along the US-México border remain without infrastructure for water and sewage. Residents in these communities often collect and store their water in open 55-gallon drums. This study evaluated changes in drinking water quality resulting from an intervention that provided large closed water storage tanks (2,500-gallons) to individual homes lacking a piped water supply. After the intervention, many of the households did not change the source of their drinking water to the large storage tanks. Therefore, water quality results were first compared based on the source of the household's drinking water: store or vending machine, large tank, or collected from a public supply and transported by the household. Of the households that used the large storage tank as their drinking water supply, drinking water quality was generally of poorer quality. Fifty-four percent of samples collected prior to intervention had detectable levels of total coliforms, while 82% of samples were positive nine months after the intervention (p < 0.05). Exploratory analyses were also carried out to measure water quality at different points between collection by water delivery trucks and delivery to the household's large storage tank. Thirty percent of the samples taken immediately after water was delivered to the home had high total coliforms (>10 CFU/100 ml). Mean free chlorine levels dropped from 0.43 mg/l, where the trucks filled their tanks, to 0.20 mg/l inside the household's tank immediately after delivery. Results of this study have implications for interventions that focus on safe water treatment and storage in the home, and for guidelines regarding the level of free chlorine required in water delivered by water delivery trucks.

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