The paradigm shift in water quality management of South African water resources was based
on current international trends. This significant move was from a previous emphasis on
source management to a focus on finding a balance between water resource protection and
water use. The current approach requires that water quality and quantity should be
maintained for sustainable functioning of both the natural aquatic environment and socioeconomic
development. This approach has placed the assessment of water quality status as
a key decision tool in water quality management.
Various assessment tools have been utilized to quantify the quality of South African water
resources. In this study we assessed the compatibility of some of the methodologies that
have been used in the Department of Water Affairs to determine and report on the water
quality status of the resource. During the assessment the context and manner in which
these methodologies can be utilized in water quality management were also addressed
The Compliance Evaluation and Fitness for use categorization methodologies are both used
to describe the water quality threshold of potential concern when dealing with the resource.
Compliance Evaluation methodology uses a pass or fail assessment, while the Fitness for use categorization methodology uses a scaled approach allowing for the assessment
of gradual change in the system. The out puts of these two methodologies, the Resource
Water Quality Objectives and Fitness for use categories/ classes have both been used in the
department as benchmarks to describe the current water quality status
The assessment of the two methodologies indicated that there are similarities in the
approaches and the principles behind the two processes. The observation of the results,
however, indicated differences in the manner of presentation of the results, the interpretation
of the outcome and in how water quality management measures that needs to be
implemented are linked.
Both methodologies are easy to apply when conducting water quality status assessments.
However, the two methodologies are not sufficient on their own when making decisions on
water quality management. It was concluded that although the compliance evaluation
methodology can play a pivotal role when setting end of pipe standards, the process needs
to consider the gradual changes of water quality in the river system in order to enable
instigation of different water quality management measures at appropriate levels. Further it
was recommended that with some modification the two approaches can be applied to assess
water quality to support adequate water quality management decisions at various levels.
Van der Merwe, Venessa; Korsten, Lise; Collignon, Stacey(IWA Publishing, 2013)
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