Framework for Water Pollution Control

Water pollution should be managed under a guiding framework. There are principles and recommendations for water resource management as recommended by UNCED, 1992. It is important to analyze, categorize and prioritize water quality problems that require solutions.

The framework of water pollution control consists of several steps part of which include, the identification of problems, and categorization of problems which helps in allocation priorities to finding solutions to such problems. Some management tools are also employed.

Framework for Water Pollution Control

Principles and Recommendations for Sound Water Resources Management (UNCED, 1992)

Freshwater is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development, and the environment. Land and water resources should be managed at the lowest appropriate levels. The government should provide an enabling role in a participatory, demand-driven approach to development.

Water should be regarded as both social and economic good. Water and land-use management should be integrated. The private sector and women have important roles in water management.

Water pollution control is an aspect of water resources management. It entails the maintenance and development of adequate quantities and quality of water. Water resources management should involve water quality aspects.

A step-wise approach was proposed (UNCED, 1992), comprising the following elements:

1. Identification and initial analysis of water pollution problems.

2. Definition of long- and short-term management objectives.

3. Derivation of management interventions, tools, and instruments needed to fulfill the management objectives.

4. Establishment of an action plan, including an action program and procedures for implementation, monitoring and updating of the plan.

Initial Analysis of Water Quality Problems and Identification of Water Quality Problems

Management of water pollution requires a proper definition of the problem to be managed and identifying problem areas requiring intervention. Tools for analysis and prioritization of water quality problems are important and help make the best use of the available resources.

To identify water quality problems, carry out a water resources’ assessment which is the determination of the sources, extent, dependability, and quality of water resources, on which is based an evaluation of the possibilities for their utilization and control” (WMO/UNESCO, 1991).
This is an integrated activity involving water pollution control and other water resources issues.

The water resources assessment should form the practical basis for the management of water pollution and water resources. The objective of water resources assessments include “Ensuring the assessment and forecasting of the quantity and quality of water resources, to estimate the total quantity of water resources available and their future supply potential, to determine their current quality status, to predict possible conflicts between supply and demand, and to provide a scientific database for rational water resources utilization”.

The assessment should identify the occurrence of both surface and groundwater quantity and their associated water quality, together with an assessment of trends in water requirements and water resources development.

The assessment should be based on existing data and knowledge. The objective of the assessment is to identify and list the problems, and priority areas within which more detailed investigations should be carried out.

Read Also: Sources and Management of Groundwater Pollution

Categorization and Prioritization of Water Quality Problems

Water quality problems fall into different categories requiring different management tools and interventions. For a national problem, a general effluent standard or regulation may be needed. Local problems may require a local by-law, intervention, or mediation. Water quality problems may be classified as “impact issues” or “user-requirement issues”.

• Impact issues come from human activities that negatively affect water quality or cause environmental degradation.

• User requirement issues result from the inadequate matching of user-specified water quality demand and the supplied water quality.

Both types of issues require intervention from a structure or institution with powers to resolve the issue. An impact issue is identified by the presence of a pollution source or human activity causing degradation of the aquatic resources (e.g. sewage dumping), and user-requirement issues are identified by the absence of water of adequate quality for a specific or intended use.

Framework for Water Pollution Control

Priorities should be assigned to problems because resources are limited. Things to consider when assigning priority to water quality problems are:

• Economic impact
• Human health impact
• Impact on ecosystem
• Geographical extent of the impact
• Duration of impact.

Required Management Interventions

For every problem identified, make an assessment of the most appropriate means for intervention, and indicate the relevant administrative level(s) to be involved. Interventions may range from the formulation of a national policy for an unregulated issue to the establishment of a database containing water quality monitoring results in a local monitoring unit.

Some Examples of management interventions include:

1. Policymaking, planning, and coordination

2. Preparation/adjustment of regulations

3. Monitoring

4. Enforcement of legislation

5. Training and information dissemination.

Definition of Long-Term and Short-Term Objectives for Water Pollution Control

Definition of long-term objectives includes the identification of key functions to be performed to achieve reasonably effective water pollution control at all administrative levels. An assessment of the full potential for development of the general level of management should form the basis for long-term objectives.

The situation obtained by fulfilling the long-term objectives for water pollution control should be satisfactory to society. The guiding principles for water resources management should be reflected in the long-term strategy.

Management at the lowest appropriate level e.g. local government should be pursued through the identification of the lowest appropriate level for all identified key functions, irrespective of the present level of management.

The main issue in the analysis of present capacity is the identification of the potential of, and constraints upon, the present management capacity and capability in relation to carrying out the management functions defined in the long-term objectives.

Factors such as suitability of institutional framework, number of staff, ability to recruit relevant new staff, staff training, educational background, and availability of financial resources should be considered.

The analysis must include all relevant administrative levels. The regions or districts should be chosen with a view to selecting a representative cross-section of diversity in water quality problems and their management.

The duration of the “short-term” should be defined. A period of approximately five years is suggested because this is roughly the planning horizon that can be controlled reasonably well and foreseen without too much dependency on future development scenarios.

When defining the short-term strategy ensure that the fulfillment of the short-term objectives will significantly contribute to achieving the long-term objectives.

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Management Tools and Instruments for Water Pollution Control

Tools and instruments are inputs to the overall process of achieving effective water pollution control. They are means of addressing identified problems. Appropriate tools are needed to solve water pollution problems and the selected tool(s) should be available and operational within the right institutions. Principles for selecting and combining management tools are:

1. Balance the input of resources against the severity of the problem and available resources. This principle entails a reasonable input of financial, human, or other resources to handle a specific problem depending on priority and severity.

2. Ensure sustainability: This principle has a bearing on the methods and technical solutions that should be considered for water pollution control. Technical solutions should be simple for example, the use of stabilization ponds for wastewater treatment. Build on existing institutions rather than new ones.

3. Seek “win-win” solutions: Apply instruments that lead to improvement in water pollution control as well as in other sectors (Bartoneet al., 1994; Warford, 1994). Economic instruments are often in the “win-win” category.

Regulations and By-laws of water pollution

Regulations are the supporting rules of the relevant legislation. Regulations can be made and amended at short notice, and require the approval of the minister or cabinet to become binding. Regulations specify the current policies, priorities, standards, and procedures that apply nationally.

Management procedures are guidelines and codes of practice that ensure consistent responses in problem-solving and decision-making. Such procedures contain more details supporting the legislation, and regulations and specifying the steps to be taken in implementing particular provisions, e.g. regulation of wastewater discharge.

For example, regulations and procedures about wastewater discharge would include descriptions of procedures for applying and granting a permit to discharge waste water to a recipient, procedures for monitoring compliance with the permit, fees, and tariffs to be paid by the polluter, and fines for non-compliance.

By-laws are made by a legally established body, such as a district or state government, and can, for example, determine the regulation and pollution of local water resources. By-laws made by lower-level institutions cannot contradict those made by higher-level institutions.

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Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Blogger- National Diploma in Agricultural Technology. - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science. - Master's Degree in Science Education. Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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