Am­bi­ent wa­ter qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business -

WA­TER qual­ity refers to the chem­i­cal, phys­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of wa­ter.

It is a mea­sure of the con­di­tion of wa­ter rel­a­tive to the re­quire­ments of liv­ing or­gan­isms and hu­man needs.

It is most fre­quently used by ref­er­ence to a set of stan­dards against which com­pli­ance can be as­sessed.

Am­bi­ent Wa­ter Qual­ity (AWQ) mon­i­tor­ing seeks to make a mea­sure­ment of the pris­tine con­di­tions of wa­ter bod­ies.

The term am­bi­ent refers to the im­me­di­ate, undis­turbed sur­round­ings of the en­vi­ron­ment.

Role of EMA in wa­ter qual­ity The En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Agency main­tains an ex­ten­sive sur­face wa­ter qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing net­work along ma­jor and mi­nor wa­ter bod­ies across the coun­try, which in­cludes streams (rivers), dams and lakes.

There are seven wa­ter catch­ments in Zim­babwe namely Runde, Sany­ati, Manyame, Gwai, Mz­ing­wane, Save and Ma­zowe. Cur­rently, a to­tal of 346 ac­tive AWQ mon­i­tor­ing points are dis­trib­uted within the seven catch­ments and th­ese are mon­i­tored on a monthly ba­sis un­der a mon­i­tor­ing pro­gramme which in­volves the col­lec­tion of wa­ter sam­ples, on site wa­ter qual­ity tests and lab­o­ra­tory an­a­lyt­i­cal tests.

An am­bi­ent mon­i­tor­ing ex­er­cise mea­sures con­cen­tra­tions of var­i­ous chem­i­cal wa­ter qual­ity pa­ram­e­ters which in­clude bi­o­log­i­cal oxy­gen de­mand (BOD), chem­i­cal oxy­gen de­mand (COD), dis­solved oxy­gen (DO), pH, ni­trates and phos­phates.

Th­ese pa­ram­e­ters pro­vide es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion on the state of a wa­ter body. They are also used to as­sess the level of wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion or pol­lu­tion and its fit­ness for the var­i­ous pur­poses such as drink­ing, recre­ation, ir­ri­ga­tion and aquatic life sup­port.

Am­bi­ent wa­ter qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing as­sesses the im­pact of hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties within a catch­ment area.

Th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties vary from man­u­fac­tur­ing, min­ing, con­struc­tion, runoff from agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties, ur­ban runoff to the dis­charge of treated and un­treated sewage into wa­ter bod­ies. In­for­ma­tion gen­er­ated from am­bi­ent wa­ter qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing is cru­cial for wa­ter re­source man­age­ment, plan­ning and de­ci­sion mak­ing. What is the im­por­tance of AWQ mon­i­tor­ing?

It char­ac­terises wa­ter and iden­ti­fies changes or trends in wa­ter qual­ity over time;

Iden­ti­fies spe­cific ex­ist­ing or emerg­ing wa­ter qual­ity prob­lems;

It gath­ers in­for­ma­tion for the de­sign of spe­cific pol­lu­tion preven­tion or re­me­di­a­tion pro­grams;

It de­ter­mines if com­pli­ance with pol­lu­tion reg­u­la­tion is being met or if im­ple­men­ta­tion of ef­fec­tive pol­lu­tion con­trol ac­tion is needed;

Wa­ter qual­ity in­for­ma­tion is im­por­tant for pub­lic safety, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, and eco­nomic growth. EMA’s role in waste and ef­flu­ent dis­charge Wa­ter and ef­flu­ent dis­charge mon­i­tor­ing falls in line with the Agency’s mis­sion to reg­u­late, mon­i­tor and pro­mote sus­tain­able man­age­ment of nat­u­ral re­sources and pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment. Wa­ter is an es­sen­tial re­source for life and good health. The Agency is al­ways mon­i­tor­ing wa­ter qual­ity and pe­nal­is­ing offenders in line with en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion. Since 2010, 664 or­ders have been is­sued to stop var­i­ous mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from dis­charg­ing raw ef­flu­ent into wa­ter bod­ies.

The En­vi­ron­ment Man­age­ment Board has called var­i­ous mu­nic­i­pal au­thor­i­ties to an­swer to charges of dis­charg­ing un­treated sewage into wa­ter bod­ies namely, Chin­hoyi, Chegutu, Harare, Chi­tung­wiza and Nor­ton whilst the ju­di­ciary has han­dled ten cases of the dis­charge of raw sewage into wa­ter bod­ies by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Of th­ese only four were fi­nalised with the pol­luters pe­nalised and or­dered to stop dis­charg­ing raw sewage into the en­vi­ron­ment.

The health con­se­quences aris­ing from wa­ter pol­lu­tion im­pede de­vel­op­ment hence the need for all of us to be part of ef­forts to con­serve and pro­tect the re­source.

In Zim­babwe pol­luted wa­ter sources led to the death of over 4 000 from cholera and left over 100 000 peo­ple sick with di­ar­rhoeal dis­eases.

Waste and ef­flu­ent leg­is­la­tion

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Act (Chap­ter 20:27) and Statu­tory In­stru­ment 6 of 2007 En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment (Ef­flu­ent and Solid Waste Dis­posal) Reg­u­la­tions gov­ern ef­flu­ent dis­charge in Zim­babwe.

The Act de­fines ef­flu­ent as “waste wa­ter or other fluid orig­i­nat­ing from do­mes­tic, agri­cul­tural and in­dus­trial ac­tiv­ity, whether treated or un­treated and whether dis­charged di­rectly or in­di­rectly into the en­vi­ron­ment,” and com­pels all op­er­a­tors who dis­charge ef­flu­ent into the en­vi­ron­ment to:

Pro­vide the En­vi­ron­ment Man­age­ment Board with ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion on the quan­tity and qual­ity of the dis­charge;

Dis­charge ef­flu­ent or other pol­lu­tants orig­i­nat­ing from trade or in­dus­trial un­der­tak­ing only into an ex­ist­ing sew­er­age sys­tem;

Get an ef­flu­ent dis­charge li­cence is­sued by the Agency and pay a pre­scribed fee for such dis­charge;

In­stall an ap­pro­pri­ate plant for the treat­ment of ef­flu­ent be­fore it is dis­charged into the en­vi­ron­ment. Classes of ef­flu­ent dis­charge li­cences The Agency is guided by the li­cence clas­si­fi­ca­tion cri­te­ria con­tained in the Third Sched­ule of Statu­tory In­stru­ment 6 of 2007 En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment (Ef­flu­ent and Solid Waste Dis­posal) Reg­u­la­tions, in is­su­ing the ef­flu­ent dis­charge li­cences and test­ing the pa­ram­e­ters of the dis­charge as out­lined in the Fourth Sched­ule of the Statu­tory In­stru­ment . The li­cences are clas­si­fied as fol­lows:

A blue li­cence in re­spect of a dis­posal which is con­sid­ered to be en­vi­ron­men­tally safe;

A green li­cence in re­spect of a dis­posal that is con­sid­ered to present a low en­vi­ron­men­tal hazard;

A yel­low li­cence in re­spect of a dis­posal; which is con­sid­ered to present a medium en­vi­ron­men­tal hazard; and

A red li­cence in re­spect of a dis­posal that is con­sid­ered to present a high en­vi­ron­men­tal hazard. Im­pacts of ef­flu­ent dis­charge into the en­vi­ron­ment

Eutroph­i­ca­tion due to high lev­els of ni­trates and phos­phates; Oxy­gen de­ple­tion in wa­ter bod­ies af­fect­ing aquatic life; Drink­ing wa­ter costs sky rocket; Bio-ac­cu­mu­la­tion of heavy me­tals in or­gan­isms; Spread of wa­ter borne dis­eases such as cholera and typhoid;

A de­cline in the wa­ter qual­ity lead­ing to health com­pli­ca­tions;

Re­duced ecosys­tem ser­vices and the pro­vi­sion of fish­eries. Ef­flu­ent mon­i­tor­ing ac­tiv­i­ties The Agency car­ries out var­i­ous mon­i­tor­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in line with its man­date of en­sur­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion which in­clude the mon­i­tor­ing of:

Di­rect dis­charges from in­dus­tries, agri­cul­tural and min­ing op­er­a­tions; it in­cludes sewage treat­ment plants, set­tling ponds and sep­tic tanks, min­ing dis­charges and agri­cul­tural waste such as the dis­posal of waste from pig­gery projects;

Am­bi­ent wa­ter mon­i­tor­ing which in­volves the col­lec­tion of wa­ter sam­ples from var­i­ous am­bi­ent points coun­try­wide for anal­y­sis by the EMA lab­o­ra­tory and;

Bio mon­i­tor­ing, which is the as­sess­ment of the eco­log­i­cal con­di­tions of wa­ter bod­ies and their abil­ity to sus­tain life. This in­volves ex­am­in­ing the or­gan­isms that live in th­ese wa­ter bod­ies.

Wa­ter qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing helps the Agency to reg­u­late the ac­tiv­i­ties within a catch­ment. The ills that we do on land are mir­rored in rivers and streams.

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