Developing evidence-based strategic water quality monitoring systems

Investigators:
Samantha Rizak
Dr Martha Sinclair
Prof Steve Hrudey

Funded by: Cooperative Research Centre for Water Quality and Treatment

At present, there is a lack of a fully informed strategic basis in the design of water quality monitoring programs or interpretation of monitoring results, typically resulting in the collection of large volumes of data that do not create knowledge or improve understanding of a water supply system. Furthermore, much of the data collected fails to facilitate interpretation and the decisions that must be made. Particularly since we are often dealing with reduced resources, a change of focus is required towards more directed, strategic monitoring and making better use of available evidence.

This research proposes applications of the well-established logic of diagnostic screening and evidence based decision making from the field of medical sciences to monitoring for drinking water quality hazards, interpretation of monitoring results and development of appropriate responses. To date the considerable insights available from this rationale have not been explicitly recognized, nor applied in the environmental sciences. This project further evolves the philosophy set out in the Framework for Management of Drinking Water Quality and uses diagnostic screening as a rationale to guide drinking water quality monitoring and diagnosing water quality hazards.

Expected outcomes for the project include guidance on designing cost-effective monitoring programs, and better use of monitoring information to increase understanding and improve management of individual water supply systems. Industry and regulators will be better informed about the capabilities, potentials, and limitations of monitoring systems for managing drinking water systems.

References:

The effect of coagulation with MF/UF membrane filtration for the removal of virus in drinking water.
Fiksdal, L. and Leiknes, T. (2006) Journal of Membrane Science, 279(1-2); 364-71.

Drinking-water safety: challenges for community-managed systems
Rizak, S. and Hrudey, S.E. (2008) Journal of Water & Health, 6 Suppl 1(33-41).

Achieving safe drinking water - Risk management based on experience and reality
Rizak, S. and Hrudey, S.E. (2007) Environmental Reviews, 15(1); 169-174.