Articles & Reports – Water Quality

Articles & Reports

Topic Key

Monitoring Water Quality

Public Health & Water Quality

Testing Parameters

Threats to Water Quality

Water Quality Concepts

Source: Rehan Hasan / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

NPR - Aug 2019

"Norovirus tends to makes the news when an outbreak occurs on cruise ships. But the virus affects many more people than ocean-going vacationers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates some 20 million people suffer acute intestinal illness from norovirus each year in this country. It's responsible for more than half of all cases of foodborne illness in the United States.

It can also get into municipal water supplies, when old pipes or storm overflow cause waste water contaminated with the norovirus to mix with drinking water."

Harmful algae of the coast of Texas. (Source: NOAA)

NOAA - 2020

"Harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur when algae — simple photosynthetic organisms that live in the sea and freshwater — grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. There are many kinds of HABs, caused by a variety of algal groups with different toxins. The HABs in fresh and marine waters are usually very different, but they overlap in low salinity estuaries (places where rivers meet the sea). ... States have rigorous monitoring programs to ensure that commercially harvested fish and shellfish are safe to eat. HABs have been reported in every U.S. coastal state, and their occurrence may be on the rise. HABs are a national concern because they affect not only the health of people and marine ecosystems, but also the "health" of local and regional economies."

The webpage header. (Source: EPA)

EPA - Ongoing

"How's My Waterway  was designed to provide the general public with information about the condition of their local waters based on data that states, federal, tribal, local agencies and others have provided to EPA. Water quality information is displayed on 3 scales in How’s My Waterway; community, state and national. More recent or more detailed water information may exist that is not yet available through EPA databases or other sources."

Intersection of time out of compliance and vulnerability. (Source: Fedinick et al.)

NRDC - Sep 2019

"Race bears the strongest relationship to slow and ineffective enforcement of the federal drinking water law in communities across the nation, according to a new report released today. Watered Down Justiceis a new analysis of EPA data that confirms there is unequal access to safe drinking water, based most strongly on race, a scientific conclusion that mirrors the lived experience of people of color and low-income residents in the United States. "

pH values across the United States, 2002 (Source: USGS)

USGS - 2020

"pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The range goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base. The pH of water is a very important measurement concerning water quality."

Polluted water pours into a larger body of water (Source: NRDC)

Scientific American - Jun 2012

"The struggle to find clean drinking water has become a way of life for the residents of East Orosi. But they’re not alone. Like a growing number of California's poor people, they’re paying for water that’s not fit to drink.

One in 10 Californians in two major agricultural regions pays high rates for well water that’s laced with nitrates, pesticides and other pollutants. Most are low-income Latinos; many speak only Spanish."

Doradine Creek with crusted salt on its banks. (Source: DoW)

Government of Western Australia - 2018

"Changes in landuse, seasonal variations in our weather and longer-term changes to climate can all affect surface water, groundwater, the flows between them, and the amounts of salt that they contain.

The term "salinity" refers to the concentrations of salts in water or soils. Salinity can take three forms, classified by their causes: primary salinity (also called natural salinity); secondary salinity (also called dryland salinity), and tertiary salinity (also called irrigation salinity)."

A body of water (Source: Lisa Fotios)

Arroyo Seco Foundation - 2020

"The five following parameters are basic to life within aquatic systems. Impairments of these can be observed as impacts to the flora and or fauna with a given waterbody.

[Dissolved oxygen] is the amount of oxygen dissolved in water. Most aquatic organisms need oxygen to survive and grow. Some species require high DO such as trout and stoneflies. Other species, like catfish, worms and dragonflies, do not require high DO."

A harmful algal bloom in California (Source: Kai Schumann)

NOAA - Apr 2016

"Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae — simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater — grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds. The human illnesses caused by HABs, though rare, can be debilitating or even fatal.

Ranging from microscopic, single-celled organisms to large seaweeds, algae are simple plants that form the base of food webs. Sometimes, however, their roles are more sinister. Under the right conditions, algae may grow out of control — and a few of these “blooms” produce toxins that can kill fish, mammals and birds, and may cause human illness or even death in extreme cases."

NASA instrument to measure sea salinity from space (Source: NASA)

NASA - Apr 2009

"We know that average sea levels have risen over the past century, and that global warming is to blame. But what is climate change doing to the saltiness, or salinity, of our oceans? This is an important question because big shifts in salinity could be a warning that more severe droughts and floods are on their way, or even that global warming is speeding up.

Now, new research coming out of the United Kingdom (U.K.) suggests that the amount of salt in seawater is varying in direct response to man-made climate change. "

Scholarly Research

Book Cover

Dinka (Water Challenges of an Urbanizing World) - Mar 2018

"Water is connected to every forms of life on earth. As a criteria, an adequate, reliable, clean, accessible, acceptable and safe drinking water supply has to be available for various users. The United Nation (UN) and other countries declared access to safe drinking water as a fundamental human right, and an essential step towards improving living standards... This chapter presents aspects of safe drinking water - background information, definition of water safety and access, benefits, principles and regulations, factors challenging the sustainable water supply and water quality standards and parameters.


Logo for the Pacific Institute

Pacific Institute - Jul 2012

"The United States has remarkable water systems, developed over two centuries of technological, institutional, and economic advances. Yet the benefits of those systems have not been felt equally across regions, communities, or populations. And the adverse consequences of inadequate water quality or quantity, and the lack of responsiveness of some water institutions to community input and participation, have helped contribute to the growing environmental justice (EJ) effort to reform water policies based on respect and justice for all, free from discrimination, bias, or inequity. In communities from Detroit to New Orleans, the inner city to the tribal areas, efforts to understand and address EJ issues around water are beginning to take shape."

Green infrastructure (Source: Martina Frey, Tetra Tech, Inc.)

U.S. EPA - Jan 2015

"Green infrastructure uses natural processes to improve water quality and manage water quantity by restoring the hydrologic function of the urban landscape, managing stormwater at its source, and reducing the need for additional gray infrastructure in many instances. These practices are designed to restore the hydrologic function of the urban landscape, managing stormwater at its source and reducing or eliminating the need for gray infrastructure. An important objective of green infrastructure is to reduce stormwater volume, which improves water quality by reducing pollutant loads, stream bank erosion, and sedimentation. When green infrastructure is employed as part of a larger-scale stormwater management system, it reduces the volume of stormwater that requires conveyance and treatment through conventional means, such as detention ponds."

Cover art for the report

U.S. EPA - July 2017

"Installing trees in locations that are engineered to retain stormwater is a great way to augment existing stormwater management systems, increasing their capacity and improving water quality while greatly improving the urban forest canopy. This guide is an introduction to those engineered systems available, and in use today, that utilize trees to manage a volume of stormwater. These systems, in addition to providing a solution for managing runoff, also grow big trees."

Sorting a sample (Source: Ribbons of Blue Avon)

Government of western Australia - Oct 2001

"Streams, rivers, wetlands and lakes are home for many small animals called macroinvertebrates. These animals generally include insects, crustaceans, molluscs, arachnids and annelids. The term macroinvertebrate describes those animals that have no backbone and can be seen with the naked eye. Some aquatic macroinvertebrates can be quite large, such as freshwater crayfish, however, most are very small. Invertebrates that are retained on a 0.25mm mesh net are generally termed macroinvertebrates. These animals live in the water for all or part of their lives, so their survival is related to the water quality."

Aerators on the Metairie Outfall Canal (Source: USGS)

USGS - 2007

"Water-quality samples collected from drainage canals, from Lake Pontchartrain, La., and from flood waters contained contaminants typically found in waters influenced by urban runoff. Pesticides and wastewater compounds were detected in all water samples, but none exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water or aquatic life criteria. Although metals were detected in all samples, copper, nickel, and silver occurred in concentrations greater than water-quality criteria for salt water. Salinity levels in the freshwater marshes south of New Orleans were typical of Gulf of Mexico waters for an extended period of time, and levels did not return to prehurricane levels until February 2006."