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92 Water Quality Monitoring

Part 8. Water Quality and Biogeochemistry

  1. Deborah V Chapman1,
  2. Michel Meybeck2,
  3. Norman E Peters3

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa094

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Chapman, D. V., Meybeck, M. and Peters, N. E. 2006. Water Quality Monitoring. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 8:92.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University College Cork, Environmental Research Institute and Department of Zoology, Ecology and Plant Science, Cork, Ireland

  2. 2

    University of Paris, Sisyphe/CNRS, Paris, France

  3. 3

    U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Water Science Center, Atlanta, GA, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


Water quality monitoring is the process of gathering data that describes the physical, chemical, and biological condition of a water body. This chapter presents an overview of the processes involved in water quality monitoring and illustrates some of the approaches used with examples of existing monitoring programs. Over the last century, improved understanding of water quality, combined with advances in measurement and monitoring technology have increased the possibility of measuring hundreds of different variables in surface and groundwaters. However, efficient use of resources for monitoring depends on careful selection of objectives for the water quality monitoring program and on targeting variables and monitoring methods that address those objectives. Recent appreciation of the close link between the physical and chemical condition of a water body and its biological component has led to the incorporation of biological approaches in many large-scale programs to assess surface water quality. Today, monitoring programs take many forms, from measurement of a few specific variables to establish trends or effectiveness of remediation measures, to sophisticated evaluation of toxic impacts of wastewaters, to relatively simple determination of the state of the aquatic environment using citizen participation. Confidence in all data gathered and its resultant usefulness for management and policy development is essential; this can only be achieved by a careful program of quality assurance that extends from sample collection in the field, to analysis in the laboratory, to data handling and manipulation.


  • water quality monitoring;
  • surveys;
  • field measurements;
  • monitoring program design;
  • quality assurance