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Updates, Knowledge Products

Breakthroughs in Water Quality Monitoring


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has placed strain on operational systems across the globe, not least of all in water supply systems. Reliable access to safe water is essential for public health, hygiene, and sanitation. Community based safe water enterprises (SWEs) in emerging markets, like those implemented by Safe Water Network, are often in remote areas with limited resources. As increased demand coincides with growing operational constraints, creative new solutions must be implemented to ensure consistent quality.

One of the key pressures faced by SWEs is water quality monitoring. To ensure that the quality is safe, water must be sampled at the point of use and tested by an accredited lab to confirm accordance with national regulations. These labs are located several hours away by car which makes secure transportation of samples difficult. Accredited labs are also overburdened by the current surge in public health demand. Constraints in transportation and processing lead to a delay of several days, potentially weeks, before results are returned. Lack of timely results creates a significant gap in water quality assurance. To ameliorate these factors, Safe Water Network invested in field-level water quality monitoring innovations.

Through these capacity building measures, we increased efficiency and ensured adherence to federal regulations while reducing operating costs:

  • The Water Quality Scorecard allows our field teams to monitor surrogate indicators of water quality and consistency, while balancing regulatory expectations with real-world challenges exacerbated by COVID-19.
  • Aquagenx Rapid Microbial test kits enable Total Coliform Bacteria and E. coli testing to be conducted on-site.
  • Hach pH and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meters provide accurate results in a matter of minutes.
  • Operational expenses are reduced across all Safe Water Network’s 98 field stations through successful implementation of these on-site water quality monitoring measures, as opposed to sole reliance on external lab testing.

You can learn more about these innovations in water quality in the following reports:

Field Insight: “On-Site Water Quality Assurance”

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Spotlight: “Launching a Scorecard to Monitor Water Quality at the Station Level in Ghana”

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