Quality of domestic water supplies

Report No TT 129/00



An essential component of managing water resources and the environment is that of monitoring and analysis of samples taken from the environment. Without the chemical and microbiological analysis of water samples, it would not be possible to determine the status and safety of drinking water supplies, which are so essential a requirement for the well-being of communities, and the sustenance of life.

Water resources are subject to ever-increasing pollution pressures, paralleling an overgrowing demand for water for drinking purposes and other uses. The determination of the chemical and microbiological quality of the water supplies is essential to establish the need and adequacy of treatment, and to safeguard human health.

The Department of Health and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, in partnership with the Water Research Commission, embarked earlier on a venture to produce a series of user-friendly guidelines. Encouraged by the demand of the first two guidelines in the series, viz., the assessment and sampling guides, the pressure was on to continue the series of capacity-building guidelines, and the third guideline in the series has now been produced, i.e. the Analysis Guide. .

This guide is specifically aimed at explaining the concepts related to the laboratory analytical techniques. These techniques are often viewed as mysterious alchemy and a closed book by non-technical experts and managers alike. By attempting to explain some of the more basic concepts of analytical science, and conditions necessary to perform a valid analysis, it is hoped that this guide will serve as an educational tool to inspire more of our young people to study the science of measurement and analysis. This will help to ensure the supply of a skilled work-force so necessary for reaching the goal of safe drinking water for all.

As in the case of the first two guides specific attention was placed on the user-friendliness of the document. In addition to water resource managers and water chemists the needs of the high-school, technicon and university educators for appropriate text-book material, have also been taken into account to empower the upcoming generation, which constitute the hope and the guarantee of our sustained well-being.