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Encyclopedia > Water Quality
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Air pollution
Acid rainAir Quality IndexAtmospheric dispersion modelingChlorofluorocarbonGlobal dimmingGlobal warming • Haze • Indoor air qualityOzone depletionParticulateSmog
Water pollution
EutrophicationHypoxiaMarine pollutionOcean acidificationOil spillShip pollutionSurface runoffThermal pollutionWastewaterWaterborne diseasesWater qualityWater stagnation
Soil contamination
Bioremediation • Herbicide • PesticideSoil Guideline Values (SGVs)
Radioactive contamination
Actinides in the environmentEnvironmental radioactivityFission productNuclear falloutPlutonium in the environmentRadiation poisoningradium in the environmentUranium in the environment
Other types of pollution
Invasive speciesLight pollutionNoise pollutionRadio spectrum pollutionVisual pollution
Inter-government treaties
Montreal ProtocolNitrogen Oxide ProtocolKyoto Protocol • CLRTAP
Major organizations
DEFRAEPAGlobal Atmosphere WatchGreenpeaceNational Ambient Air Quality Standards
Related topics
Natural environment

Water quality is the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of water, characterized through the methods of hydrometry. The primary bases for such characterization are parameters which relate to drinking water, safety of human contact and for health of ecosystems. The vast majority of surface water on the planet is neither potable nor toxic. This remains true even if sea water in the oceans (which is too salty to drink) isn't counted. Another general perception of water quality is that of a simple property that tells whether water is water pollution or not. In fact, water quality is a very complex subject, in part because water is a complex medium intrinsically tied to the ecology of the Earth. Industrial pollution is a major cause of water pollution, as well as runoff from agricultural areas, urban stormwater runoff and discharge of untreated sewage (especially in developing countries). It has been suggested that Pollutant be merged into this article or section. ... Air pollution is a chemical, physical (e. ... The term acid rain also known as acid precipitation is commonly used to mean the deposition of acidic components in rain, snow, dew, or dry particles. ... An air quality measurement station in Edinburgh, Scotland The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a standardized indicator of the air quality in a given location. ... Atmospheric dispersion modeling is performed with computer programs that use mathematical equations and algorithms to simulate how pollutants in the ambient atmosphere disperse in the atmosphere. ... Tetrafluoroethane (a haloalkane) is a clear liquid which boils well below room temperature (as seen here) and can be extracted from common canned air canisters by simply inverting them during use. ... Global dimming is the gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the Earths surface that was observed for several decades after the start of systematic measurements in 1950s. ... Global mean surface temperatures 1850 to 2006 Mean surface temperature anomalies during the period 1995 to 2004 with respect to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earths atmosphere and oceans in recent decades and the projected... Haze is an atmospheric phenomenon where dust, smoke and other pollutant particles obscure the normal clarity of the sky. ... Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) deals with the content of interior air that could affect health and comfort of building occupants. ... Global monthly average total ozone amount Ozone depletion describes two distinct, but related observations: a slow, steady decline of about 4 percent per decade in the total amount of ozone in Earths stratosphere since around 1980; and a much larger, but seasonal, decrease in stratospheric ozone over Earths... Particulates, alternatively referred to as particulate matter (PM), aerosols or fine particles, are tiny particles of solid or liquid suspended in a gas. ... Victorian London was notorious for its thick smogs, or pea-soupers, a fact that is often recreated to add an air of mystery to a period costume drama. ... Raw sewage and industrial waste flows into the U.S. from Mexico as the New River passes from Mexicali, Baja California to Calexico, California Water pollution is a large set of adverse effects upon water bodies such as lakes, rivers, oceans, and groundwater caused by human activities. ... Eutrophication refers to an increase in the primary productivity of any ecosystem. ... It has been suggested that Anoxic sea water, Oxygen minimum zone, and Hypoxic zone be merged into this article or section. ... Pumping of highly toxic (dark black) sludge, much seeps back into the ocean in the form of particles. ... Change in sea surface pH caused by anthropogenic CO2 between the 1700s and the 1990s Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earths oceans, caused by their uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. ... An oil spill is the unintentional release of liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment as a result of human activity. ... Ship pollution is the pollution of water by shipping! It is a problem that has been accelerating as trade has become increasingly globalized. ... Runoff flowing into a stormwater drain Surface runoff is water, from rain, snowmelt, or other sources, that flows over the land surface, and is a major component of the water cycle[1][2]. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called overland flow. ... Thermal pollution is a temperature change in natural water bodies caused by human influence. ... Wastewater is any water that has been adversely affected in quality by anthropogenic influence. ... Waterborne diseases, according to the World Health Organization, are those which generally arise from the contamination of water by feces or urine, infected by pathogenic viruses or bacteria, and which are directly transmitted when unsafe water is drunk or used in the preparation of food. ... Standing water redirects here. ... Excavation of leaking underground storage tank causing soil contamination Soil contamination is the presence of man-made chemicals or other alteration of the natural soil environment. ... Bioremediation can be defined as any process that uses microorganisms, fungi, green plants or their enzymes to return the environment altered by contaminants to its original condition. ... A herbicide is a pesticide used to kill unwanted plants. ... A cropduster spreading pesticide. ... The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ... The radiation warning symbol (trefoil). ... This article about actinides in the environment is about the sources, environmental behaviour and effects of actinides in the environment. ... The environmental radioactivity page is devoted to the subject of radioactive materials in man and his environment. ... Fission products are the residues of fission processes. ... Fallout is the residual radiation hazard from a nuclear explosion, so named because it falls out of the atmosphere into which it is spread during the explosion. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... Radiation poisoning, also called radiation sickness, is a form of damage to organ tissue due to excessive exposure to ionizing radiation. ... // Radium Radium in quack medicine See the story of Eben Byers for details of one very nasty case which involved a product called Radithor this contained 1 mCi of 226Ra and 1 mCi of 228Ra per bottle. ... Uranium in the environment, this page is devoted to the science of uranium in the environment and in animals (including humans). ... Lantana invasion of abandoned citrus plantation; Moshav Sdey Hemed, Israel The term invasive species refers to a subset of introduced species or non-indigenous species that are rapidly expanding outside of their native range. ... This time exposure photo of New York City shows sky glow, one form of light pollution. ... Noise pollution (or environmental noise in technical venues) is displeasing human or machine created sound that disrupts the environment. ... Radio spectrum pollution is the straying of waves in the radio and electromagnetic spectrums outside their allocations that cause problems for some activities. ... Visual pollution is the term given to unattractive visual elements of a vista, a landscape, or any other thing that a person might want to look at. ... The largest Antarctic ozone hole recorded as of September 2000 For other similarly-named agreements, see Montreal Protocol (disambiguation). ... Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Concerning the Control of Emissions of Nitrogen Oxides or Their Transboundary Fluxes, opened for signature on 31 October 1988 and entered into force on 14 February 1991, was to provide for the control or reduction of nitrogen oxides and... Kyoto Protocol Opened for signature December 11, 1997 in Kyoto, Japan Entered into force February 16, 2005. ... note - abbreviated as Air Pollution opened for signature - 13 November 1979 entered into force - 16 March 1983 objective - to protect the human environment against air pollution and to gradually reduce and prevent air pollution, including long-range transboundary air pollution parties - (48) Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the United Kingdom government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in England. ... EPA redirects here. ... Global Atmosphere Watchs logo The Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) is a worldwide system established by the World Meteorological Organization – a United Nations agency – to monitor trends in the Earths atmosphere. ... Greenpeace protest against Esso / Exxon Mobil. ... The National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are standards established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that apply for outdoor air throughout the country. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Hydrometry is the monitoring of the components of the hydrological cycle including rainfall, groundwater characteristics, as well as water quality and flow characteristics of surface waters. ... Surface water is water on the ground or in a stream, river, lake, sea or ocean; as opposed to groundwater. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Raw sewage and industrial waste flows into the U.S. from Mexico as the New River passes from Mexicali, Baja California to Calexico, California Water pollution is a large set of adverse effects upon water bodies such as lakes, rivers, oceans, and groundwater caused by human activities. ... A developing country is a country with low average income compared to the world average. ...



Contaminants that may be in untreated water include microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria; inorganic contaminants such as salts and metals; pesticides and herbicides; organic chemical contaminants from industrial processes and petroleum use; 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). A cluster of Escherichia coli bacteria magnified 10,000 times. ...

The Environmental Protection Agency prescribes regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in the water provided by public water systems for tap water. 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.

Some people use water purification technology to remove contaminants from the municipal water supply they get in their homes, or from local pumps or bodies of water. For people who get water from a local stream, lake, or aquifer, their drinking water is not filtered by the local government.

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 impact wildlife which use the water for drinking or as a Habitat.

The neutrality of this section is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

Interest by individuals and volunteer groups in making local water quality observations is high, and an understanding of the basic chemistry of many water quality parameters is an essential first step to making good measurements. Most citizens harbor great concern over the purity of their drinking water, but there is far more to water quality than water treatment for human consumption. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ...

Statements to the effect that "uses must be preserved" are included within water quality regulations because they provide for broad interpretation of water quality results, while preserving the ultimate goal of the regulations. Technical measures of water quality—that is, the values obtained when making water quality measurements—are always subject to interpretation from multiple perspectives. Is it reasonable to expect a river to be pristine in a landscape that no longer is? If a river has always carried sediment, is it polluted even if the cause is not man induced? Can water quality be maintained when water quantity can not? The questions that arise from consideration of water quality relative to human uses of the water become more complex when consideration must also be given to conditions required to sustain aquatic biota. Yet inherent in the concept of preserving uses is a mandate that waterways must be much more than conduits for a fluid we might want to drink, fill our swimming pool with, or carry our wastes out of town. This article or section cites very few or no references or sources. ...

Measurement of water quality

The complexity of water quality as a subject is reflected in the many types of measurements of water and Wastewater quality indicators. These measurements include (from simple and basic to more complex):

  • Electrical conductivity|Conductivity (also see salinity)
  • Dissolved Oxygen
  • pH
  • Color of water
  • Taste and odor (geosmin, 2-methylisoborneol (MIB), etc)
  • Turbidity
  • Total suspended solids (TSS)
  • Dissolved metals and salts (sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium)
  • Chemical oxygen demand (COD)
  • Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)
  • Microorganisms such as fecal coliform bacteria (Escherichia coli), Cryptosporidium, and Giardia lamblia
  • Nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus
  • Dissolved metals and metalloids (lead, Mercury (element),arsenic, etc.)
  • Dissolved organics: Colored Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM), Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC)
  • Temperature
  • Pesticides
  • Heavy Metals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Hormone analogs

Some of the simple measurements listed above can be made on-site (temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity), in direct contact with the water source in question. More complex measurements that must be made in a lab setting require a water sample to be collected, preserved, and analyzed at another location. Making these complex measurements can be expensive. Oxygen saturation or dissolved oxygen (DO) is a measure of amount of oxygen dissolved in a given medium. ... Geosmin is the organic compound responsible for the earthy taste of beets. ...

Because direct measurements of water quality can be expensive, ongoing monitoring programs are typical conducted by government agencies. 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. 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 (EPT). 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. A number of websites originating in the United States offer guidance on developing a monitoring program and identifying members of these and other aquatic insect orders.

Reports about Water Quality

In the United States each governing jurisdiction (states, territories, and covered tribal entities) is required to submit a set of biennial reports on the quality of water in their area. These reports submitted to, and approved by, the Environmental Protection agency are known as the 303(d), 305(b) and 314 reports. In coming years it is expected that the governing jurisdictions will submit all three reports as a single document, called the Integrated Report. The 305(b) report is a general report on water quality throughout the state, providing overall information about the number of miles of streams and rivers and their agreegate condition. The 314 report provides similar information for lakes. Under the Clean Water Act, states are required to adopt water quality standards for each of the possible designated uses that they assign to their waters. Should evidence exist to 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 the 303(d) list, or the list of impaired waters. Once on the 303(d) list states are required to develop management plans establishing Total Maximum Daily Loads for the pollutant impairing the use of the water. These TMDLs establish what reductions in pollutants are needed to allow the water to regain its status as fully supporting the designated uses assigned to it. These reports are completed by the governing jurisdiction, typically a Department of Environmental Quality or similar state agency, and are available on the web.

Individuals interested in more information about water quality in areas of the United States may find information at the EPA's "Surf Your Watershed" website.

See also

Water Portal

Image File history File links Drinking_water. ... An Atmospheric water generator (AWG) is a machine that produces pure drinking water from the humidity of the surrounding air. ... Bacterial water analysis is a routine check to make sure the concentration of potentially pathogenic bacteria is sufficiently low to say it is safe to drink by humans with a reasonable level of confidence. ... Drinking water Mineral Water Drinking water is water that is intended to be ingested by humans. ... The water policy of the European Union is primarily codified in three directives: The Urban waste water treatment directive 91/271/EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning discharges of municipal and some industrial waste waters; The Drinking water directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 concerning potable water quality... Warning sign in Santa Monica, California, where reclaimed water is used to irrigate plants in public parks. ... Excavation of leaking underground storage tank causing soil contamination Soil contamination is the presence of man-made chemicals or other alteration of the natural soil environment. ... Vapaire is a commercial atmospheric water generator, a device that condenses water vapor from the air into pure drinkable liquid water. ... Impact from a water drop causes an upward rebound jet surrounded by circular capillary waves. ... Water resources are sources of water that are useful or potentially useful to humans. ... Wastewater quality indicators such as the Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and the Chemical oxygen demand (COD) are essentially laboratory test measures of the amount of oxygen in a wastewater. ... Water quality modelling involves the prediction of water pollution using mathematical simulation techniques. ... Raw sewage and industrial waste flows into the U.S. from Mexico as the New River passes from Mexicali, Baja California to Calexico, California Water pollution is a large set of adverse effects upon water bodies such as lakes, rivers, oceans, and groundwater caused by human activities. ... Control room and schematics of the water purification plant to Bret lake. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Water Quality Theme Page (1771 words)
Water Unit: Physical Properties: Part 2 of 6 Introduces students to the physical properties of water by having them guide water droplets around a race course outlined on a piece of wax paper.
Water Unit: Surface Tension: Part 3 of 6 This unit introduces students to the physical properties of surface tension on water by floating a needle on it.
Water Unit: The Uses of Water: Part 6 of 6 This final activity involves the students in categorizing the uses of water.
Encyclopedia: Water quality (1492 words)
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 very complex subject, in part because water is a complex medium intrinsically tied to the ecology of the entire planet.
Not only use of water as a consumable product, but all other uses such as wildlife habitat, irrigation, swimming, fishing, rafting, and boating—any or all of which can be adversely impacted by water quality degradation.
  More results at FactBites »



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