Ensuring Safe and Sustainable Water Use Through Water Quality Management

Explore how water quality management helps industries achieve operational efficiency, meet regulatory compliance, and uphold environmental stewardship.

an environmental professional testing water quality for water quality management purposes

What is Water Quality Management?

Water quality management is the continuous cycle of monitoring, assessing, maintaining, and improving water quality in different environments, including rivers, lakes, and aquifers. These practices ensure the water quality meets the standards for specific uses, including agriculture irrigation, livestock watering, wildlife protection and propagation, recreation, and potability.


Water is essential to life. However, due to population growth, industrial expansion, and climate change, water quality continues to deteriorate. It poses significant risks to human and environmental health. The global water crisis underscores the need for a comprehensive water management plan with rigorous testing and treatment solutions across industries. Aside from complying with relevant regulations, companies gain the following:

  • Enhanced operational efficiency – Maintaining optimal water quality extends equipment lifespan, reducing the need for maintenance and lessening unexpected downtimes, ultimately increasing profitability. Proactive water management also curtails water waste, minimizing the need for water remediation.
  • Improved employee health and safety – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), water-borne diseases are the leading cause of disease globally. By providing clean water in the workplace, companies can safeguard their employees’ health, reduce sick days, and avoid expensive hospitalization.
  • Stronger brand reputation – The private sector should work with public agencies to maintain optimal water quality. Investing in a high-quality water quality management system is a start to ensuring that the communities that companies belong to have access to clean water or, at the very least, have unpolluted waterways. Demonstrating commitment to environmental protection and sustainability will be rewarded by the general public through brand loyalty.

Integrate ESG principles into your operations

Drive sustainable growth and create long-term value with our ESG solutions.

Explore now

Elements of Water Quality Management

For water quality management to be effective and enduring, the company should develop a comprehensive approach that encompasses public health protection, operational efficiency, and regulatory compliance. Here are a few specific elements to consider:

Continuous Monitoring and Analysis

This refers to the systematic collection of data on water quality parameters. Through close monitoring, companies can assess current water quality and identify trends over time based on their environmental aspects and impacts.

  • Establish a consistent schedule for sampling at various locations to capture a comprehensive picture of water quality. Compare these results against historical data and regulatory benchmarks to see improvements or deterioration.
  • Utilize diverse parameters to assess water quality and identify contaminants. These are some of the most basic tests to consider:
    • Physical tests include pH, temperature, and turbidity.
    • Chemical tests check for heavy metals, nitrates, and pesticides.
    • Microbiological tests detect harmful bacteria and pathogens, such as Coliform, Rotavirus, Hepatitis, and Legionella.
      • Aside from regular testing, health and safety managers should also conduct risk assessments to prioritize areas that require immediate attention.
  • Data analytics tools, such as statistical software and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), delineate specific sites, visualize trends and patterns, and provide insights for decision-making.

Create your own Environmental risk assessment checklist

Build from scratch or choose from our collection of free, ready-to-download, and customizable templates.

Browse Environmental risk assessment checklists

Water Treatment Solutions

This aims to remove the contaminants from water, making it suitable for its intended use. Effective treatment is essential, not just for protecting public health and meeting regulatory requirements but also for optimizing industrial processes. Here are some of the most common methods:

  • Filtration, commonly used in pharmaceuticals and food and beverage industries, is the process that eradicates particulates, suspended solids, bacteria, and other impurities from water through a filter medium, such as sand, gravel, and activated carbon.
  • Disinfection makes use of chemicals to eliminate or deactivate pathogens. Municipal water treatment facilities often use ultraviolet (UV) treatment, ozonation, and chlorination.
  • Softening removes calcium, magnesium, and other “hard” minerals from water with the help of ion exchange resins. Laundry shops, textile producers, and automotive manufacturers use this to prevent scale buildup on equipment and improve production quality.
  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) presses water through a semi-permeable membrane to leave contaminants like ions and molecules behind. Electronics and pharmaceutical industries use this because they need ultra-pure water for semiconductor fabrication and drug formulation.
  • Coagulation and flocculation are chemical processes that destabilize particles such as organic matter and heavy chemicals. Municipal wastewater treatment facilities and mining companies often use these treatment methods.

Policy Development for Compliance

Adherence to local, national, and international water quality standards is non-negotiable. Developing clear policies and procedures for protecting water quality enables the company to meet established standards. Here are some key aspects to include in the internal water quality management system:

  • Water safety plan for assessing the company’s supply from source to tap.
  • Incident response procedures to mitigate the impacts of pollution and ensure prompt restoration of normal operations
  • Extensive record-keeping of testing and treatment results and immediate reporting of incidences to relevant authorities.

Education and Training

Employees should have the knowledge and skills to manage water quality effectively. Individuals not directly involved in testing and treatment procedures should still know and adopt the best practices, encouraging a culture of water conservation and quality improvement.

Technology Implementation

Integrating Internet of Things (IoT) devices, utilizing advanced data analytics, and leveraging remote sensing technologies (e.g., satellite imagery and drones) enhance the accuracy, efficiency, and effectiveness of monitoring, assessment, and treatment processes.

FAQs About Water Quality Management

Companies across industries should develop a comprehensive water quality management system. Electronics, pharmaceuticals, and food beverage producers need ultrapure water supply to maintain product quality and safety. Mining, oil and gas, and other extractive industries should also monitor their water supply and waste to minimize environmental contamination.

According to the UN Environmental Program (UNEP), the five core parameters that provide a complete picture of the chemical, physical, and biological condition of a body of water are:

  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Nitrogen or nitrate
  • Phosphorus
  • pH

Water degradation, presented with signs like increased turbidity, salinity, pollutants, and toxicity, is caused by the following:

  • Discharge of untreated or inadequately treated wastewater
  • Fertilizer and pesticide runoff from agricultural lands
  • Contaminant leaching from waste disposal sites
  • Saltwater intrusion in groundwater
  • Sedimentation from soil erosion
  • Accidental spills of hazardous substances

Different government agencies monitor compliance, conduct inspections, and take enforcement action against companies that don’t meet established standards and violate water quality regulations. Here are just some of them:

Eunice Arcilla Caburao
Article by

Eunice Arcilla Caburao

SafetyCulture Content Contributor
Eunice Caburao is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. A registered nurse, theater stage manager, Ultimate Frisbee athlete, and mother, she has written a wide range of topics for over a decade. Eunice draws upon her rich, multidisciplinary background to create informative articles about emerging topics on health, safety, and workplace efficiency.