Polluted water impairs the health of individuals, endangers wildlife, and increases water treatment costs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (QLD EPA), pollutants may include any number of chemicals and nutrients, but the leading violators include bacteria, mercury, phosphorus, nitrogen, and organic material.
Water quality protection like Queensland EPA, protects streams and wetlands scientifically shown to have the greatest impact on downstream water quality and which form the foundation of water sources.
Measuring Water Quality
Water quality is seldom a constant in any body of water. When it rains, contaminants such as oil, grease, chemicals from motor vehicles, pesticides, road salts, and more run off streets untreated into rivers, lakes, and harbours. Nitrate runoff from fertiliser can concentrate in drinking water if not removed by water treatment.
Water scientists test water using equipment designed to detect these contaminants. Measurement instruments used in the field and in the laboratory include:
- pH Meters reveal pH level, which can change significantly if chemicals, acid rain or drainage have contaminated the water
- Dissolved Oxygen Meters monitor water pollution by testing oxygen availability. Low levels of dissolved oxygen may indicate the presence of organic material decomposition
- Turbidity Meters assess water clarity and particulates in the water
- Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Meters measure anything that cannot be seen, including minerals, salts, metals, and more
- Multiparameter Meters test a number of parameters, which may include pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, turbidity, ion concentrations, barometric pressure, and salinity
- Colorimeters determine the concentration of a large range of contaminants in a water sample
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