Water Quality Monitoring

What is Water Quality Monitoring?

Water quality describes the physical, chemical, biological and aesthetical characteristics of a water resource.

Water quality monitoring is a process that involves the collection of water samples, laboratory analysis, data validation and verification and statistical analysis of the results to derive meaningful information for resource management purposes. This is done to determine the quality of the water and whether it is appropriate for its intended use e.g. drinking. Some parameters that are analyzed include:




pH & Temperature


nitrates & phosphates


faecal coliform & faecal streptococci


Copper, Lead, Iron



What are the effects of Poor Water Quality?

Poor water quality is caused by contaminants entering the water body and causing negative impacts. Below are some examples:






Agricultural runoff


Algal blooms

Acidification of freshwater ecosystems

Pathogenic organisms e.g bacteria and viruses



Intestinal infections

Agricultural waste

Amoebic encephalitis

What is the role of the Water Quality Section?

The role of the Water Quality Section of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is to protect the water resources of Barbados. This is achieved through the evaluation of land-based activities and their associated risks and the recommendation appropriate control measures. The Water Quality Section has four main monitoring programmes:

  • The Ground Water Monitoring Programme ensures that drinking water is of good quality for public consumption. The EPD, along with the Barbados Water Authority, collects samples from twenty-one (21) drinking water wells, eleven (11) agricultural wells, and seven (7) public springs.
  • The Widescreen Ground Water Monitoring Programme is intensive in that it assesses parameters not normally analysed within the regular groundwater monitoring programme. It involves the biannual collection of water samples from potable wells. Some of the approximately one hundred and twenty (120) parameters analysed under this programme include persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals.
  • The Nearshore Recreational Water Monitoring Programme involves the collection of samples from eighteen (18) west and south coast bathing beaches. The results of the sample analysis give an indication of the impact of land-based activities on the nearshore environment and thereby determines if the beach is safe for recreational activities.
  • The Wastewater Monitoring Programme involves the monitoring of discharges from wastewater treatment plants across the island to determine compliance with the Marine Pollution Control Act CAP. 392A and conditions of approval.

What Can I Do to Protect Our Groundwater?

In Barbados, since most of our drinking water is derived from groundwater sources, to keep our drinking water safe we should:

  • Adhere to the laws and rules governing the activities specified for the zone where you live. Stop disposing of waste in watercourses.

Owners of wastewater treatment plants have a responsibility to:

  • Document and keep records on effluent quality and maintenance activities.
  • Ensure that only effluent of good quality is disposed of.
  • Ensure proper maintenance and upkeep of the treatment plants.
  • Ensure that effluent is not discharged directly to the marine environment.
  • Ensure proper functioning of wastewater plants by ensuring personnel are adequately trained.

What are the Relevant Guidelines, Standards, and Legislation used to Manage Water Quality

  • Health Services Act, CAP. 44
  • Marine Pollution Control Act CAP. 392A
  • Ground Water Protection Policy, 1973 –Improvement of Amenities in Zone I Areas
  • World Health Organization Drinking Water Guidelines