Sunday, March 03, 2013

PUB drinking water quality report 2011

Readers interested in our drinking water quality may want to check out this report on tap water quality in 2011.
It compares our tap water values against WHO drinking water guidelines and indicates whether there is compliance. Not surprisingly, all those parameters that have a corresponding WHO drinking water standard show compliance.

Let's see... it contains data on 1 microbiological parameter, 2 physico-chemical parameters, 3 radiological parameters and 90 chemical parameters! Wow, that makes almost a hundred water quality parameters which is a big improvement from the 21 parameters (20 physical/chemical + 1 microbiological) from another PUB water treatment webpage comparing the waters from various water treatment plants. Astute readers will course notice that some of the parameters from the water treatment webpage are not included in the water quality report e.g. pH, conductivity, taste, odour, total alkalinity, total hardness, total dissolved solids. Nevertheless, such a report is very useful for citizens who want to know more about our tap water quality - beyond the common yes/no statement that the water is drinkable and follows WHO standards.

However, the statisticians out there may be disappointed to learn that no other details on the testing regime are given.
  1. How many samples were tested?
  2. From where? Water treatment plant, tap, distribution network, storage tank?
  3. How frequent were the samples collected? Any specific dates?
  4. Which testing lab(s) were involved?
  5. Were other parameters tested? (My personal belief is more testing had been done than what is reported.) Did they clear the standards?
Despite the lack on information on the above points, I am glad that such a report is available to the public. It goes a long way to educating the public on such a vital resource as water. And I think this is the current trend our society is following. The end user becomes more educated and hence wants to find out more about the resources he is using in order to make an informed decision in synch with his beliefs. Hopefully, this will lead to a more sustainable future.

Figure: Students learning about water quality testing in SP

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