Water quality refers to the chemical, physical, biological, and radiological characteristics of water. It is a measure of the condition of water relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and or to any human need or purpose. It is most frequently used by reference to a set of standards against which compliance, generally achieved through treatment of the water, can be assessed. The most common standards used to assess water quality relate to health of ecosystems, safety of human contact, and drinking water.
In the setting of standards, agencies make political and technical/scientific decisions about how the water will be used. In the case of natural water bodies, they also make some reasonable estimate of pristine conditions. Natural water bodies will vary in response to environmental conditions. Environmental scientists work to understand how these systems function, which in turn helps to identify the sources and fates of contaminants. Environmental lawyers and policymakers work to define legislation with the intention that water is maintained at an appropriate quality for its identified use.
The vast majority of surface water on the Earth is neither potable nor toxic. This remains true when seawater in the oceans (which is too salty to drink) is not counted. Another general perception of water quality is that of a simple property that tells whether water is polluted or not. In fact, water quality is a complex subject, in part because water is a complex medium intrinsically tied to the ecology of the Earth. Industrial and commercial activities (e.g. manufacturing, mining, construction, transport) are a major cause of water pollution as are runoff from agricultural areas, urban runoff and discharge of treated and untreated sewage.
The parameters for water quality are determined by the intended use. Work in the area of water quality tends to be focused on water that is treated for human consumption, industrial use, or in the environment.
Contaminants that may be in untreated water include microorganisms such as viruses, protozoa and bacteria; inorganic contaminants such as salts and metals; organic chemical contaminants from industrial processes and petroleum use; pesticides and herbicides; and radioactive contaminants. Water quality depends on the local geology and ecosystem, as well as human uses such as sewage dispersion, industrial pollution, use of water bodies as a heat sink, and overuse (which may lower the level of the water).
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits the amounts of certain contaminants in tap water provided by US public water systems. The Safe Drinking Water Act authorizes EPA to issue two types of standards:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water that must provide the same protection for public health. Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of these contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk.
In urbanized areas around the world, water purification technology is used in municipal water systems to remove contaminants from the source water (surface water or groundwater) before it is distributed to homes, businesses, schools and other recipients. Water drawn directly from a stream, lake, or aquifer and that has no treatment will be of uncertain quality.
Dissolved minerals may affect suitability of water for a range of industrial and domestic purposes. The most familiar of these is probably the presence of ions of calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) which interfere with the cleaning action of soap, and can form hard sulfate and soft carbonate deposits in water heaters or boilers. Hard water may be softened to remove these ions. The softening process often substitutes sodium cations. Hard water may be preferable to soft water for human consumption, since health problems have been associated with excess sodium and with calcium and magnesium deficiencies. Softening decreases nutrition and may increase cleaning effectiveness. Various industries' wastes and effluents can also pollute the water quality in receiving bodies of water.
Environmental water quality, also called ambient water quality, relates to water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and oceans. Water quality standards for surface waters vary significantly due to different environmental conditions, ecosystems, and intended human uses. Toxic substances and high populations of certain microorganisms can present a health hazard for non-drinking purposes such as irrigation, swimming, fishing, rafting, boating, and industrial uses. These conditions may also affect wildlife, which use the water for drinking or as a habitat. Modern water quality laws generally specify protection of fisheries and recreational use and require, as a minimum, retention of current quality standards.
There is some desire among the public to return water bodies to pristine, or pre-industrial conditions. Most current environmental laws focus on the designation of particular uses of a water body. In some countries these designations allow for some water contamination as long as the particular type of contamination is not harmful to the designated uses. Given the landscape changes (e.g., land development, urbanization, clearcutting in forested areas) in the watersheds of many freshwater bodies, returning to pristine conditions would be a significant challenge. In these cases, environmental scientists focus on achieving goals for maintaining healthy ecosystems and may concentrate on the protection of populations of endangered species and protecting human health.
The complexity of water quality as a subject is reflected in the many types of measurements of water quality indicators. The most accurate measurements of water quality are made on-site, because water exists in equilibrium with its surroundings. Measurements commonly made on-site and in direct contact with the water source in question include temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, oxygen reduction potential (ORP), turbidity, and Secchi disk depth.
More complex measurements are often made in a laboratory requiring a water sample to be collected, preserved, transported, and analyzed at another location. The process of water sampling introduces two significant problems:
Sample preservation may partially resolve the second problem. A common procedure is keeping samples cold to slow the rate of chemical reactions and phase change, and analyzing the sample as soon as possible; but this merely minimizes the changes rather than preventing them.:43–45 A useful procedure for determining influence of sample containers during delay between sample collection and analysis involves preparation for two artificial samples in advance of the sampling event. One sample container is filled with water known from previous analysis to contain no detectable amount of the chemical of interest. This sample, called a "blank", is opened for exposure to the atmosphere when the sample of interest is collected, then resealed and transported to the laboratory with the sample for analysis to determine if sample holding procedures introduced any measurable amount of the chemical of interest. The second artificial sample is collected with the sample of interest, but then "spiked" with a measured additional amount of the chemical of interest at the time of collection. The blank and spiked samples are carried with the sample of interest and analyzed by the same methods at the same times to determine any changes indicating gains or losses during the elapsed time between collection and analysis.
Inevitably after events such as earthquakes and tsunamis, there is an immediate response by the aid agencies as relief operations get underway to try and restore basic infrastructure and provide the basic fundamental items that are necessary for survival and subsequent recovery. Access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation is a priority at times like this. The threat of disease increases hugely due to the large numbers of people living close together, often in squalid conditions, and without proper sanitation.
After a natural disaster, as far as water quality testing is concerned there are widespread views on the best course of action to take and a variety of methods can be employed. The key basic water quality parameters that need to be addressed in an emergency are bacteriological indicators of fecal contamination, free chlorine residual, pH, turbidity and possibly conductivity/total dissolved solids. There are a number of portable water test kits on the market widely used by aid and relief agencies for carrying out such testing.
After major natural disasters, a considerable length of time might pass before water quality returns to pre-disaster levels. For example, following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami the Colombo-based International Water Management Institute (IWMI) monitored the effects of saltwater and concluded that the wells recovered to pre-tsunami drinking water quality one and a half years after the event. IWMI developed protocols for cleaning wells contaminated by saltwater; these were subsequently officially endorsed by the World Health Organization as part of its series of Emergency Guidelines.
The simplest methods of chemical analysis are those measuring chemical elements without respect to their form. Elemental analysis for oxygen, as an example, would indicate a concentration of 890 g/L (grams per litre) of water sample because oxygen (O) has 89% mass of the water molecule (H2O). The method selected to measure dissolved oxygen should differentiate between diatomic oxygen and oxygen combined with other elements. The comparative simplicity of elemental analysis has produced a large amount of sample data and water quality criteria for elements sometimes identified as heavy metals. Water analysis for heavy metals must consider soil particles suspended in the water sample. These suspended soil particles may contain measurable amounts of metal. Although the particles are not dissolved in the water, they may be consumed by people drinking the water. Adding acid to a water sample to prevent loss of dissolved metals onto the sample container may dissolve more metals from suspended soil particles. Filtration of soil particles from the water sample before acid addition, however, may cause loss of dissolved metals onto the filter. The complexities of differentiating similar organic molecules are even more challenging.
Making these complex measurements can be expensive. Because direct measurements of water quality can be expensive, ongoing monitoring programs are typically conducted by government agencies. However, there are local volunteer programs and resources available for some general assessment. Tools available to the general public include on-site test kits, commonly used for home fish tanks, and biological assessment procedures.
Although water quality is usually sampled and analyzed at laboratories, since the late 20th century there has been increasing public interest in the quality of drinking water provided by municipal systems. Many water utilities have developed systems to collect real-time data about source water quality. In the early 21st century, a variety of sensors and remote monitoring systems have been deployed for measuring water pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen and other parameters. Some remote sensing systems have also been developed for monitoring ambient water quality in riverine, estuarine and coastal water bodies.
The following is a list of indicators often measured by situational category:
Biological monitoring metrics have been developed in many places, and one widely used measure is the presence and abundance of members of the insect orders Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (common names are, respectively, mayfly, stonefly and caddisfly). EPT indexes will naturally vary from region to region, but generally, within a region, the greater the number of taxa from these orders, the better the water quality. Organisations in the United States, such as EPA. offer guidance on developing a monitoring program and identifying members of these and other aquatic insect orders. Many US wastewater dischargers (e.g., factories, power plants, refineries, mines, municipal sewage treatment plants) are required to conduct periodic whole effluent toxicity (WET) tests.
Individuals interested in monitoring water quality who cannot afford or manage lab scale analysis can also use biological indicators to get a general reading of water quality. One example is the IOWATER volunteer water monitoring program of Iowa, which includes a benthic macroinvertebrate indicator key.
Bivalve molluscs are largely used as bioindicators to monitor the health of aquatic environments in both fresh water and the marine environments. Their population status or structure, physiology, behaviour or the level of contamination with elements or compounds can indicate the state of contamination status of the ecosystem. They are particularly useful since they are sessile so that they are representative of the environment where they are sampled or placed. A typical project is the U.S. Mussel Watch Programme, but today they are used worldwide.
The Southern African Scoring System (SASS) method is a biological water quality monitoring system based on the presence of benthic macroinvertebrates. The SASS aquatic biomonitoring tool has been refined over the past 30 years and is now on the fifth version (SASS5) which has been specifically modified in accordance with international standards, namely the ISO/IEC 17025 protocol. The SASS5 method is used by the South African Department of Water Affairs as a standard method for River Health Assessment, which feeds the national River Health Programme and the national Rivers Database.
Water quality guidelines for South Africa are grouped according to potential user types (e.g. domestic, industrial) in the 1996 Water Quality Guidelines. Drinking water quality is subject to the South African National Standard (SANS) 241 Drinking Water Specification.
In England and Wales acceptable levels for drinking water supply are listed in the "Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2000."
In the United States, Water Quality Standards are defined by state agencies for various water bodies, guided by the desired uses for the water body (e.g., fish habitat, drinking water supply, recreational use). The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires each governing jurisdiction (states, territories, and covered tribal entities) to submit a set of biennial reports on the quality of water in their area. These reports are known as the 303(d) and 305(b) reports, named for their respective CWA provisions, and are submitted to, and approved by, EPA. These reports are completed by the governing jurisdiction, typically a state environmental agency. EPA recommends that each state submit a single "Integrated Report" comprising its list of impaired waters and the status of all water bodies in the state. The National Water Quality Inventory Report to Congress is a general report on water quality, providing overall information about the number of miles of streams and rivers and their aggregate condition. The CWA requires states to adopt standards for each of the possible designated uses that they assign to their waters. Should evidence suggest or document that a stream, river or lake has failed to meet the water quality criteria for one or more of its designated uses, it is placed on a list of impaired waters. Once a state has placed a water body on this list, it must develop a management plan establishing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the pollutant(s) impairing the use of the water. These TMDLs establish the reductions needed to fully support the designated uses.
A bioindicator is any species (an indicator species) or group of species whose function, population, or status can reveal the qualitative status of the environment. For example, copepods and other small water crustaceans that are present in many water bodies can be monitored for changes (biochemical, physiological, or behavioural) that may indicate a problem within their ecosystem. Bioindicators can tell us about the cumulative effects of different pollutants in the ecosystem and about how long a problem may have been present, which physical and chemical testing cannot.A biological monitor or biomonitor is an organism that provides quantitative information on the quality of the environment around it. Therefore, a good biomonitor will indicate the presence of the pollutant and also attempt to provide additional information about the amount and intensity of the exposure.
A biological indicator is also the name given to a process for assessing the sterility of an environment through the use of resistant microorganism strains (eg. Bacillus or Geobacillus). Biological indicators can be described as the introduction of a highly resistant microorganisms to a given environment before sterilization, tests are conducted to measure the effectiveness of the sterilization processes. As biological indicators use highly resistant microorganisms, you can be assured that any sterilization process that renders them inactive will have also killed off more common, weaker pathogens.Chemical oxygen demand
In environmental chemistry, the chemical oxygen demand (COD) is an indicative measure of the amount of oxygen that can be consumed by reactions in a measured solution. It is commonly expressed in mass of oxygen consumed over volume of solution which in SI units is milligrams per litre (mg/L). A COD test can be used to easily quantify the amount of organics in water. The most common application of COD is in quantifying the amount of oxidizable pollutants found in surface water (e.g. lakes and rivers) or wastewater. COD is useful in terms of water quality by providing a metric to determine the effect an effluent will have on the receiving body, much like biochemical oxygen demand (BOD).Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution. Its objective is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters; recognizing the responsibilities of the states in addressing pollution and providing assistance to states to do so, including funding for publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of wastewater treatment; and maintaining the integrity of wetlands. It is one of the United States' first and most influential modern environmental laws. As with many other major U.S. federal environmental statutes, it is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in coordination with state governments. Its implementing regulations are codified at 40 C.F.R. Subchapters D, N, and O (Parts 100-140, 401-471, and 501-503).
Technically, the name of the law is the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The first FWPCA was enacted in 1948, but took on its modern form when completely rewritten in 1972 in an act entitled the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. Major changes have subsequently been introduced via amendatory legislation including the Clean Water Act of 1977 and the Water Quality Act of 1987.The Clean Water Act does not directly address groundwater contamination. Groundwater protection provisions are included in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Superfund act.Drinking water
Drinking water, also known as potable water, is water that is safe to drink or to use for food preparation. The amount of drinking water required to maintain good health varies, and depends on physical activity level, age, health-related issues, and environmental conditions. Americans, on average, drink one litre of water per day and 95% drink less than three litres per day. For those who work in a hot climate, up to 16 litres a day may be required. Liquid water, along with air pressure, nutrients, and solar energy, is essential for life.Typically in developed countries, tap water meets drinking water quality standards, even though only a small proportion is actually consumed or used in food preparation. Other typical uses include washing, toilets, and irrigation. Greywater may also be used for toilets or irrigation. Its use for irrigation however may be associated with risks. Water may also be unacceptable due to levels of toxins or suspended solids.
Globally, by 2015, 89% of people had access to water from a source that is suitable for drinking – called improved water source. In Sub-Saharan Africa, access to potable water ranged from 40% to 80% of the population. Nearly 4.2 billion people worldwide had access to tap water, while another 2.4 billion had access to wells or public taps. The World Health Organization considers access to safe drinking-water a basic human right.
About 1 to 2 billion people lack safe drinking water, a problem that causes 30,000 deaths each week. More people die from unsafe water than from war, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in 2010.Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. It supports a wide diversity of life and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. CNN labelled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland.A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism. Other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, dumping of dredging sludge and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish. According to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.The Great Barrier Reef has long been known to and used by the Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and is an important part of local groups' cultures and spirituality. The reef is a very popular destination for tourists, especially in the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns regions. Tourism is an important economic activity for the region, generating over AUD$3 billion per year. In November 2014, Google launched Google Underwater Street View in 3D of the Great Barrier Reef.A March 2016 report stated that coral bleaching was more widespread than previously thought, seriously affecting the northern parts of the reef as a result of warming ocean temperatures. In October 2016, Outside published an obituary for the reef; the article was criticized for being premature and hindering efforts to bolster the resilience of the reef. In March 2017, the journal Nature published a paper showing that huge sections of an 800-kilometre (500 mi) stretch in the northern part of the reef had died in the course of 2016 due to high water temperatures, an event that the authors put down to the effects of global climate change. The percentage of baby corals being born on the Great Barrier Reef dropped drastically in 2018 and scientists are describing it as the early stage of a "huge natural selection event unfolding". The reason behind low birth of new corals is that many of the mature breeding adults died in the bleaching events of 2016-17, and thus could not produce offspring. The types of corals that reproduced changed too, which points towards the fact that there will be long-term reorganisation of the reef ecosystem if the trend continues.Great Lakes Areas of Concern
Great Lakes Areas of Concern are designated geographic areas within the Great Lakes Basin that show severe environmental degradation. There are a total of 43 areas of concern within the Great Lakes, 26 being in the United States, 17 in Canada, with five shared by the two countries.
The Great Lakes, the largest system of fresh water lakes in the world, are shared by the United States and Canada. They make up 95% of the surface freshwater in the contiguous United States and have 10,000 miles of coastline (including connecting channels, mainland and islands)—more than the contiguous United States' Pacific and Atlantic coastlines combined. The lakes are a system of transport and shipping, as well as a place of recreation.Hard water
Hard water is water that has high mineral content (in contrast with "soft water"). Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone and chalk which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates and bicarbonates
Hard drinking water may have moderate health benefits, but can pose critical problems in industrial settings, where water hardness is monitored to avoid costly breakdowns in boilers, cooling towers, and other equipment that handles water. In domestic settings, hard water is often indicated by a lack of foam formation when soap is agitated in water, and by the formation of limescale in kettles and water heaters. Wherever water hardness is a concern, water softening is commonly used to reduce hard water's adverse effects.Hazard analysis and critical control points
Hazard analysis and critical control points, or HACCP (), is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe and designs measures to reduce these risks to a safe level. In this manner, HACCP attempts to avoid hazards rather than attempting to inspect finished products for the effects of those hazards. The HACCP system can be used at all stages of a food chain, from food production and preparation processes including packaging, distribution, etc. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) require mandatory HACCP programs for juice and meat as an effective approach to food safety and protecting public health. Meat HACCP systems are regulated by the USDA, while seafood and juice are regulated by the FDA. All other food companies in the United States that are required to register with the FDA under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, as well as firms outside the US that export food to the US, are transitioning to mandatory hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls (HARPC) plans.HACCP is believed to stem from a production process monitoring used during World War II because traditional "end of the pipe" testing on artillery shells' firing mechanisms could not be performed, and a large percentage of the artillery shells made at the time were either duds or misfiring. HACCP itself was conceived in the 1960s when the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) asked Pillsbury to design and manufacture the first foods for space flights. Since then, HACCP has been recognized internationally as a logical tool for adapting traditional inspection methods to a modern, science-based, food safety system. Based on risk-assessment, HACCP plans allow both industry and government to allocate their resources efficiently in establishing and auditing safe food production practices. In 1994, the organization International HACCP Alliance was established, initially to assist the US meat and poultry industries with implementing HACCP, and now its membership has been spread over other professional and industrial areas.Hence, HACCP has been increasingly applied to industries other than food, such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. This method, which in effect seeks to plan out unsafe practices based on science, differs from traditional "produce and sort" quality control methods that do nothing to prevent hazards from occurring and must identify them at the end of the process. HACCP is focused only on the health safety issues of a product and not the quality of the product, yet HACCP principles are the basis of most food quality and safety assurance systems. In the United States, HACCP compliance is regulated by 21 CFR part 120 and 123. Similarly, FAO and WHO published a guideline for all governments to handle the issue in small and less developed food businesses.Hypoxia (environmental)
Hypoxia refers to low oxygen conditions. Normally, 20.9% of the gas in the atmosphere is oxygen. The partial pressure of oxygen in the atmosphere is 20.9% of the total barometric pressure. In water however, oxygen levels are much lower, approximately 1%, and fluctuate locally depending on the presence of photosynthetic organisms and relative distance to the surface (if there is more oxygen in the air, it will diffuse across the partial pressure gradient).ISO 7027
ISO 7027:1999 is an ISO standard for water quality that enables the determination of turbidity. The ISO 7027 technique is used to determine the concentration of suspended particles in a sample of water by measuring the incident light scattered at right angles from the sample. The scattered light is captured by a photodiode, which produces an electronic signal that is converted to a turbidity.Little Seneca Creek
Little Seneca Creek is an 14.0-mile-long (22.5 km) stream in Montgomery County, Maryland, roughly 18 miles (29 km) northwest of Washington, D.C.National Estuarine Research Reserve
The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of 29 protected areas established by partnerships between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and coastal states. The reserves represent different biogeographic regions of the United States. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System protects more than 1.3 million acres of coastal and estuarine habitats for long-term research, water-quality monitoring, education, and coastal stewardship.Natural Resources Conservation Service
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical assistance to farmers and other private landowners and managers.
Its name was changed in 1994 during the presidency of Bill Clinton to reflect its broader mission. It is a relatively small agency, currently comprising about 12,000 employees. Its mission is to improve, protect, and conserve natural resources on private lands through a cooperative partnership with state and local agencies. While its primary focus has been agricultural lands, it has made many technical contributions to soil surveying, classification and water quality improvement. One example is the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP), set up to quantify the benefits of agricultural conservation efforts promoted and supported by programs in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (2002 Farm Bill). NRCS is the leading agency in this project.Oxygen saturation
Oxygen saturation (symbol SO2) is a relative measure of the concentration of oxygen that is dissolved or carried in a given medium as a proportion of the maximal concentration that can be dissolved in that medium. It can be measured with a dissolved oxygen probe such as an oxygen sensor or an optode in liquid media, usually water. The standard unit of oxygen saturation is percent (%).
Oxygen saturation can be measured regionally and noninvasively. Arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) is commonly measured using pulse oximetry. Tissue saturation at peripheral scale can be measured using NIRS. This technique can be applied on both muscle and brain.Salinity
Salinity (/səˈlɪnəti/) is the saltiness or amount of salt dissolved in a body of water, called saline water (see also soil salinity). This is usually measured in (note that this is technically dimensionless). Salinity is an important factor in determining many aspects of the chemistry of natural waters and of biological processes within it, and is a thermodynamic state variable that, along with temperature and pressure, governs physical characteristics like the density and heat capacity of the water.
A contour line of constant salinity is called an isohaline, or sometimes isohale.Total dissolved solids
Total dissolved solids (TDS) is a measure of the dissolved combined content of all inorganic and organic substances present in a liquid in molecular, ionized, or micro-granular (colloidal sol) suspended form. Generally, the operational definition is that the solids must be small enough to survive filtration through a filter with 2-micrometer (nominal size, or smaller) pores. Total dissolved solids are normally discussed only for freshwater systems, as salinity includes some of the ions constituting the definition of TDS. The principal application of TDS is in the study of water quality for streams, rivers, and lakes. Although TDS is not generally considered a primary pollutant (e.g. it is not deemed to be associated with health effects), it is used as an indication of aesthetic characteristics of drinking water and as an aggregate indicator of the presence of a broad array of chemical contaminants.
Primary sources for TDS in receiving waters are agricultural runoff and residential (urban) runoff, clay-rich mountain waters, leaching of soil contamination, and point source water pollution discharge from industrial or sewage treatment plants. The most common chemical constituents are calcium, phosphates, nitrates, sodium, potassium, and chloride, which are found in nutrient runoff, general stormwater runoff and runoff from snowy climates where road de-icing salts are applied. The chemicals may be cations, anions, molecules or agglomerations on the order of one thousand or fewer molecules, so long as a soluble micro-granule is formed. More exotic and harmful elements of TDS are pesticides arising from surface runoff. Certain naturally occurring total dissolved solids arise from the weathering and dissolution of rocks and soils. The United States has established a secondary water quality standard of 500 mg/l to provide for palatability of drinking water.
Total dissolved solids are differentiated from total suspended solids (TSS), in that the latter cannot pass through a sieve of 2 micrometers and yet are indefinitely suspended in solution. The term settleable solids refers to material of any size that will not remain suspended or dissolved in a holding tank not subject to motion, and excludes both TDS and TSS. Settleable solids may include larger particulate matter or insoluble molecules.Trophic state index
Trophic State Index (TSI) is a classification system designed to rate bodies of water based on the amount of biological activity they sustain. Although the term "trophic index" is commonly applied to lakes, any surface body of water may be indexed.
The TSI of a body of water is rated on a scale from zero to one hundred. Under the TSI scale, bodies of water may be defined as:
oligotrophic (TSI 0–40, having the least amount of biological productivity, "good" water quality);
mesoeutrophic (TSI 40–60, having a moderate level of biological activity, "fair" water quality); or
eutrophic to hypereutrophic (TSI 60–100, having the highest amount of biological activity, "poor" water quality).The quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus, and other biologically useful nutrients are the primary determinants of a body of water's TSI. Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus tend to be limiting resources in standing water bodies, so increased concentrations tend to result in increased plant growth, followed by corollary increases in subsequent trophic levels. Consequently, a body of water's trophic index may sometimes be used to make a rough estimate of its biological condition.Turbidity
Turbidity is the cloudiness or haziness of a fluid caused by large numbers of individual particles that are generally invisible to the naked eye, similar to smoke in air. The measurement of turbidity is a key test of water quality.
Fluids can contain suspended solid matter consisting of particles of many different sizes. While some suspended material will be large enough and heavy enough to settle rapidly to the bottom of the container if a liquid sample is left to stand (the settable solids), very small particles will settle only very slowly or not at all if the sample is regularly agitated or the particles are colloidal. These small solid particles cause the liquid to appear turbid.
Turbidity (or haze) is also applied to transparent solids such as glass or plastic. In plastic production, haze is defined as the percentage of light that is deflected more than 2.5° from the incoming light direction.Water pollution
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies, usually as a result of human activities. Water bodies include for example lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater. Water pollution results when contaminants are introduced into the natural environment. For example, releasing inadequately treated wastewater into natural water bodies can lead to degradation of aquatic ecosystems. In turn, this can lead to public health problems for people living downstream. They may use the same polluted river water for drinking or bathing or irrigation. Water pollution is the leading worldwide cause of death and disease, e.g. due to water-borne diseases.Water pollution can be grouped into surface water pollution. Marine pollution and nutrient pollution are subsets of water pollution. Sources of water pollution are either point sources and non-point sources. Point sources have one identifiable cause of the pollution, such as a storm drain, wastewater treatment plant or stream. Non-point sources are more diffuse, such as agricultural runoff. Pollution is the result of the cumulative effect over time. All plants and organisms living in or being exposed to polluted water bodies can be impacted. The effects can damage individual species and impact the natural biological communities they are part of.
The causes of water pollution include a wide range of chemicals and pathogens as well as physical parameters. Contaminants may include organic and inorganic substances. Elevated temperatures can also lead to polluted water. A common cause of thermal pollution is the use of water as a coolant by power plants and industrial manufacturers. Elevated water temperatures decrease oxygen levels, which can kill fish and alter food chain composition, reduce species biodiversity, and foster invasion by new thermophilic species.Water pollution is measured by analysing water samples. Physical, chemical and biological tests can be done. Control of water pollution requires appropriate infrastructure and management plans. The infrastructure may include wastewater treatment plants. Sewage treatment plants and industrial wastewater treatment plants are usually required to protect water bodies from untreated wastewater. Agricultural wastewater treatment for farms, and erosion control from construction sites can also help prevent water pollution. Nature-based solutions are another approach to prevent water pollution. Effective control of urban runoff includes reducing speed and quantity of flow. In the United States, best management practices for water pollution include approaches to reduce the quantity of water and improve water quality.
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