How to Define Water Quality

Andrew JohnsonNatural Resources, Online Courses Comments

How to define water quality - environmental monitoring

Why YOU Need to Care About Water Quality!

I don’t think there is any more valuable resource in the world than water. Water plays a vital role in supporting life on our planet and has endless uses. Obviously, if you’re alive, you know that drinking water, used for human consumption, plays an extremely significant role in the valuation of water. In addition, water is also valued for providing transportation and trade routes for globalization. Fresh water and marine water are also valued for providing fish and wildlife habitat.

Due to the fact that water is such an essential element in our daily lives, it also has a strong economic value. The economic values associated with water include such things as commercial fisheries and shellfish harvest. Water also supports energy production, recreation and cultural values.

When it comes to water, we must realize that this awesome element has both tangible and intrinsic values. Tangible values of water are the values that are measurable, such as the economic gain that can be seen from commercial fisheries. Water also holds an intrinsic value for our planet because it is an essential element, but may not be measured easily. An example of the intrinsic value of water is evident concerning the value of fish and wildlife habitats, in cases when the fish and wildlife species are not harvested commercially.

Did you know that Canada has one of the largest supplies of unpolluted fresh water in the world? Freshwater is one of the most limiting habitat types on earth. Sadly, many fish stock worldwide are becoming inedible due to increasing water pollution. In developing nations 80% of diseases are actually water-related.

Can you see why the protection of water quality is so important to our human needs?

Water quality is measured as the condition of water relative to the requirement of one or more biotic species and any human need or purpose. Water quality refers to the chemical, physical and biological characteristics of water. Some of the chemical characteristics involved in determining water quality include pH, heavy metal contamination, hydrocarbons and oxygen levels. Physical characteristics related to water include the amount of suspended sediment in the water column; this sedimentation can be caused by anthropogenic or human sources, or the loss of habitat characteristics for fish and wildlife habitats. Biological characteristics considered when determining water quality include the amount of pathogens, viruses, and bacteria found in the water column as a result of factors such as sewage contamination. Additional biological characteristics that can have a large impact on watersheds include invasive fish species and invasive plant species. I know you thinking, really? Invasive plant species are affecting water quality? Well – it’s true! Invasive plant species can grow in a watershed and actually impede the heath of the ecosystem by up taking much of the water’s oxygen.

Want to learn more on determining water quality? Then check out the Basic Sampling I – Water Quality & Spill Response course in the UNBC Continuing Studies’ Environmental Monitoring Certificate.