Groundwater pollution: Are we monitoring appropriate parameters?

  • G Tredoux
  • L Cavé
  • P Engelbrecht


Groundwater pollution is a worldwide phenomenon with potentially disastrous consequences. Prevention of pollution is the ideal approach. However, in practice groundwater quality monitoring is the main tool for timely detection of pollutants and protection of groundwater resources. Monitoring groundwater quality is a specialised task for a hydrogeologist and a water quality monitoring expert. Although general prescriptions for waste management facilities exist these may not be applicable in all cases. In the literature, divergent approaches have identified various sets of pollutants and pollution indicators. This paper discusses international and local trends in groundwater monitoring for baseline studies and on-going pollution detection monitoring for a variety of situations. Cemeteries, a pollution source for which no local monitoring requirements exist, are also included. The effectiveness of some commonly prescribed monitoring parameters is considered, as well as the use of “bulk parameters” for reducing the number of analyses and the associated costs, while still achieving the optimum result. Although not considered in detail in this paper, cost-effective groundwater quality monitoring should be a key part of the design of a monitoring programme.

Water SA Vol. 30 (5) 2005: pp.114-119

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eISSN: 0378-4738