Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment, 2012, InTech

Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment, 2012, InTech

Water is a valuable and finite resource on Earth. Both water quantity and quality are becoming dominant issues in many countries. European Environment Agency notes that except in some northern countries that possess abundant water resources, water scarcity occurs in many countries, particularly in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Africa etc, confronted with a crucial combination of a severe lack of and high demand for water. The growth of world population, up to 9 billion by 2050, leading to increase demands of water, growing urbanization and high living standards, intensive agricultural activities and industrial demands as well as climate change with droughts and floods episodes are significant pressures for the available water resources Consequently, many countries have significant problems concerning both severe water scarcity and poor water quality.

Surface water and groundwater that are the main sources of fresh water for drinking purposes, irrigation and various other uses, represent as small fraction of water burden on earth. It is pointed out that only 30% of the freshwater (3% of the total volume of water) on Earth is groundwater. In many areas, water needs are mainly covered by groundwater abstracted from the aquifers via numerous wells and boreholes. As a result, a negative water balance is established in the aquifer systems around the world and water levels are dropping rapidly.

Point and non-point sources such as sewage effluents, wastewater discharges, agricultural runoff, industrial and mining activities, atmospheric deposition may seriously affect these water resources. As a consequence various pollutants such as pathogen microorganisms, nutrients, heavy metals, toxic elements, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and various other organic micropollutants may occur in water resulting in degradation of water quality. Another, severe problem, especially in coastal areas is the increase salinity of groundwater, due to seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers as a cause of high water demands and overexploitation.

The access to good quality freshwater is a decisive factor for socio-economic development of the countries. Recently, the European Community through Water Directive 2000/60/EC, established the framework for actions in the field of water policy for the protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater. This Directive aims at the protection and enhancement of the aquatic ecosystems, promotion of sustainable water use based on a long-term protection of available water resources, progressive reduction or cessation of discharges of hazardous substances into aquatic environment and mitigation the effects of floods and droughts. These actions contribute to the provision of sufficient supply of good quality surface water and groundwater as needed for sustainable as well as to balanced and equitable water use.

This book entitled “Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment” attempts to covers the main fields of water quality issues presenting case studies in various countries concerning the physicochemical characteristics of surface and groundwaters and possible pollution sources as well as methods and tools for the evaluation of water quality status. Particularly, this book is divided into two sections:

  1. Statistical analysis of water quality data
    The first ten chapters focus on the evaluation of water quality data by employing conventional hydrochemical techniques and statistical analysis (e.g. cluster, factor and trend analysis, risk analysis and decision support systems).
  2. Water quality monitoring studies
    This section includes seventeen chapters related to the water quality and the assessment of water pollution. These chapters represent case studies from different countries of the world regarding the quality of surface and groundwater.