Effect-based monitoring is ready for deployment in water safety planning

Closing meeting GWRC project Effect-Based Monitoring in Water Safety Planning in Paris

It is possible to use bioassays for monitoring water safety. To bring this effect-based monitoring to application, end-users, laboratories and governments need to come together to develop an integrated approach. That is one of the conclusions from the GWRC project on effect-based monitoring in water safety planning.

Bioassays can be a powerful tool for monitoring water quality: they show the toxic effects of present substances on organisms and thus complement chemical analyses of water samples. Effect-based monitoring with bioassays can help identify and detect potentially harmful micropollutants in water and be part of an effective monitoring approach.

Practical applicability

A GWRC project was launched in 2019 to demonstrate the practical usefulness of effect-based monitoring techniques and collect experiences. A survey of 63 scientists, practitioners and government representatives from 19 countries showed that three-quarters of them felt that using effect-based methods would improve monitoring of drinking water quality and can help improve public confidence in drinking water.

Meeting at Suez

Project partners Veolia, Suez, Griffith University, Helmholz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, GWRC and KWR have spent the past few years evaluating methods and tools for effect-based monitoring. They also studied how this technology can be incorporated into policy frameworks and carried out and analysed various case studies. On the 19th of September, results and insights from the project where shared with GWRC members, end users and other interested parties in a final workshop at Suez in Paris. The participants were welcomed by senior-vice president Innovation, Research & Services Jerome Bailly of Suez. During the day, ideas were exchanged on what future opportunities are for application of effect-based monitoring, the main barriers for implementation and the next steps needed to address these.

Ready for use

A key conclusion is that effect-based monitoring is ready for practical application and can have several benefits. Well-integrated use of the technology can generate cost savings and contribute to water safety. This requires laboratories that can reproducibly apply the technology. Next to that, end users, governments and laboratories should jointly develop a reliable and reproducible approach for the application of bioassays, and integration in (legal) guidelines is needed for the use of bioassays and the assessment of the results of such measurements.

The concluding report of this GWRC project will be available in early 2023, with the project results already on the project page.

Milo de Baat and Geertje Pronk in front of the Suez building in Paris, where the final meeting took place.