Water quality monitoring of lakes in Kerala - Need advice on screening of water quality of lakes and availability of testing kits

From Latha Bhaskar, Community Environmental Resource Centre (CERC), Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), Alapuzha, Kerala
Posted 15 November 2007

Like any other water body, Lakes are common property resources whose appropriation was guided by well-defined social norms and customs. However, growing population pressure, emergence of new stakeholders, private dominance of resource allocation and use and the granting of rights by the Government to use the water body without evaluating its cumulative impact on backwaters and biota, has led to largely uncontrolled resource use.

Additionally the lakes serve as a sink for effluents of several industrial and manufacturing units, agricultural run offs, and domestic sewage which deteriorates the water quality of the lakes and causes water borne diseases thus affecting the well being of the people and habitat needs of other life forms.

Constant monitoring of the water quality provides better understanding about the condition of the lakes and provides a base for developing effective management practices. Existing official monitoring systems is not extensive enough to understand the real situation of the lakes and existing regulations are insufficient to address the problems. Given, the large number of stakeholders official monitoring efforts alone cannot halt this deterioration.

In this context, I request members of the Solution Exchange Water Community for their experiences and expert opinion on the following aspects:

1. Based on experiences, suggest the most essential parameters to be used for screening the water quality of the lake.
      a. Simple parameters that can be tested through community participation using simple field test kits/simple machines available on market.
      b. Essential parameters that need to be tested in lab situations.
2. Details of the Agencies supplying field screening test kits with cost range etc.
3. Frequency of these monitoring activities
4. Details of Research studies on Lake water Monitoring done by various institutions ,available for cross reference.

The ATREE (Ashoka Tru The st for Research in Ecology and Environment) is initiating a study in Vembanad region (Ramsar site) and one of the objective of this effort is "To develop a scientific and pragmatic methodology for participatory monitoring of the water quality involving local community, stakeholders and other interested agencies /groups". In the link below is the preliminary brief of the project proposal i.e. Vembanad Water Watch Partnership Programme (VWWPP) for background reference. http://www.solutionexchange-un.net.in/en/

Members may kindly note that this is a draft, which is to be modified further in the light of, cross consultations. The link for our site is http://www.vembanad.org/co be updated shortly)

We therefore look forward to the reactions of members which will be helpful to finalise the parameters for the water quality monitoring programme (Vembanad Water Watch Partnership Programme), scheduled to be implemented shortly.

Awaiting your solutions.

Please see attachment below for the responses.