Chemical testing, in general, is not undertaken as frequently as microbiological analysis because in general, the health risk posed by chemicals is chronic rather than acute and because changes in water chemistry tend to be longer-term unless a specific pollution event has occurred. It should be stressed that monitoring the microbiological quality of water is much more important than monitoring of chemical quality and chemical testing should generally be a lower priority.
However, where resources permit, routine testing of the chemical quality of water should be undertaken. Priority should be given to those substances which are known to be of importance to health and which are known to be present in significant concentrations in drinking water. For instance, the monitoring of nitrate is recommended in many water supplies and in particular those which are located in rural areas, or where recharge occurs in an agricultural area. In these circumstances, regular monitoring is recommended to ensure that early warning of increases is noted or when nitrate releases are highly seasonal in nature.
An assessment of the chemical quality of water should be undertaken during source selection and this should relate to known activities within the catchment of the source and possible natural pollutants. In areas where toxic chemicals are released into the aquatic environment, routine monitoring should be undertaken and closely linked with an emergency warning procedure that should function to alert water suppliers, surveillance agencies and health bodies of any accidental releases of substances into water sources.
Water quality testing is an important part of environmental monitoring when water quality is poor; it affects not only aquatic life but the surrounding ecosystem as well. These sections detail all of the parameters that affect the quality of water in the environment. These properties can be physical, chemical or biological factors. Chemical characteristics involve parameters such as pH and dissolved oxygen. These parameters are relevant not only to surface water studies of the ocean, lakes, and rivers but to groundwater and industrial processes as well.
With quality, monitoring can help researchers predict and learn from natural processes in the environment and determine human impacts on an ecosystem. These measurement efforts can also assist in restoration projects or ensure environmental standards are being met.
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