IWRA has a long history of working on the issue of water quality, a key thematic area in its Strategic Priorities & Actions for 2016-2018.

Why focus on Water Quality?

Water quality is a crucial consideration for efficient water resources management. Improving water quality management is seen as essential for a more balanced and multidimensional approach to the research, policy-making, governance, operations and management of water resources.  In order to improve water security, water quality management must improve.  This is particularly evident in situations where water quality degradation or inappropriate use of water qualities is responsible for reducing the necessary quantity of water available for various uses.  Similarly, socio-economic improvement is dependent on access to sufficient water of appropriate quality for its various development paths.

Access to safe drinking water and sanitation remains a significant challenge, whilst other sectors including ecosystems, industry, energy and agriculture are also experiencing increasing pressure. Thus, it is increasingly important to use available resources more intelligently, make the most of the massive potential for wastewater reuse, and balance the water quality requirements between different uses.  Our current state of knowledge regarding global water quality remains poor.  Existing water quality data is urgently lacking, but is essential for the global water community to better identify specific problems as well as potential solutions.

Water Quality is also one of the main challenges to achieving the global agenda as outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Launched in January 2016, the SDGs highlight the importance that water holds with its own Goal 6 to: ‘Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’ and a sole target for water quality:

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6.3  By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

Therefore, the development of a global water quality assessment framework as well as access to timely and reliable data is urgently needed to support decision-making and management processes at a local, national and international level. Due to its diverse and complex nature, a holistic approach among different sectors and stakeholders is required to improve water quality.  Management frameworks must be flexible and adaptive to account for these changing parameters in order to devise water quality policies in a more integrated and sustainable way.


Global Compendium on Water Quality Guidelines: Which quality for which use?

Following the 6th World Water Forum in 2012, IWRA was selected to develop a global reference of water quality guidelines for different uses.  The Association’s main goal is to continue this work by presenting various perspectives, experiences, and tools that will promote the smart use of water for different end-users so that water quality dimensions are incorporated into water resource planning and management.  The general objective of the “Global Compendium on Water Quality Guidelines: Which quality for which use?” is to contribute to ensuring the adequate global availability of water resources with appropriate quality in accordance to the different uses.

Specific Objectives


IWRA was the Thematic Champion for Theme 3.3 “Ensuring Water Quality from Ridge to Reef” in the Implementation Roadmap set out for the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu & Gyeongbuk, Republic of Korea in 2015, and continues as the topic lead for water quality under the Ecosystems Theme for the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia, Brazil, in 2018. IWRA, therefore, has supported the coordination of monitoring and reporting around the 5 goals below from the 7th Forum, and specifically worked on the delivery of goal 3.3.a.

  • 3.3.a – Using water smarter to contribute to the water security
    This focus area aimed to develop a global reference on Water Quality for the different uses (domestic, agriculture, industry, energy, and ecosystems) with guidelines on different scales (national, regional, and international), presented with multi-disciplinary perspectives (technical, economic, institutional, legal, social, and environmental). IWRA sets specific activities to promote the smarter use of water through the provision of expert networks and tools. The network comprised a working group of experts overseeing the development of the main tool, a Compendium on Water Quality Guidelines for Different Uses.
  • 3.3.b – Monitoring and Reporting of Water Quality
    This area of focus provided understanding and access to Water-Quality-data by utilizing the power of mobile phones. Being that the number of mobile phones will soon exceed the world’s total population, it has never before been easier to collect, analyse, and present data to support decision-makers in problem-solving water initiatives. This focus area strived to achieve this by up scaling water quality monitoring and reporting through mobile phones.
  • 3.3.c – Strengthening Frameworks for Governing and Managing Water Quality
    This area of focus developed and used existing cooperation mechanisms and frameworks in addition to strengthening frameworks for the effective governance and management of water quality.
  • 3.3.d – Sustainable Wastewater Management and Reuse
  • This area of focus aimed to gather and make available good wastewater treatment technologies, support policies and financial instruments, and showcase how these can be incorporated within an integrated wastewater management approach by analysing case study lessons.
  • 3.3.e – Managing sources for coastal and marine water quality improvements
    This area of focus made use of the Action Platform on Source to Sea Management to undertake a stock take on source-to-sea (ridge-to-reef) management to determine the aspects in need of increased attention considering past lessons, identify how the international community can be mobilized and contribute.

Water Quality Task Force

The Association was glad to launch recently the debut of its Task Force on Water Quality (WQ).  With an open call for panellists, IWRA sought experts from around the world to join its WQ Task Force, to make a meaningful contribution to Water Quality through the WQ Project with strong support of the World Water Council.  The WQ Task Force is made up of selected IWRA members, supported by its Executive Board and Secretariat.  Panellists will have the opportunity to:

  1. Contribute to a compendium on global water quality guidelines.  Panellists will help to review and finalise the report entitled “Global Compendium on Water Quality Guidelines: Which quality for which use?” to be published in 2018.
  2. Help scope the development of future projects related to water quality.
  3. Interact and create meaningful networks and relationships with other IWRA members, as well as to contribute to projects and initiatives that otherwise would be inaccessible for individual professionals in the field.

After an open call to IWRA members to join the WQ Task Force, almost 40 applications representing 25 different countries were received, with great representation from both women and developing countries. In mid-December 2017, the IWRA Task Force Selection Committee decided on a group of 14 panellists. These include: Thomas Arsuffi, Malcolm Gander, Alex Godoy Faundez, Maxwell Anim Gyampo, Rajiv Kangabam,  D.L. Marrin, Saskia Nowicki, Amrisha Pandey, Jocelyn Pesquera, Roxana Salazar, Raya Stephan,  Carla Toranzo, Sisira Withanachchi and Hua Xie.

More information on the Panellists


  • Thomas Arsuffi (United States) – Director, Llano River Field Station, Texas Tech University. He received his Ph.D. at New Mexico State University in 1984 and did a post doctorate at the University of Georgia Marine Institute on Sapelo Island and Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada. His research interests are in aquatic and watershed ecology and environmental education. He teaches courses in Aquatic Biology, General Ecology, Stream Ecology, Environmental Impact Analysis, Invasive Species Ecology, Scientific Method in Aquatic Resources and Wetlands Ecology. He has publications in leading ecological journals and given invited and contributed presentations on his work at national and international aquatic, ecological and scientific meetings.
  • Malcolm Gander (United States) – Environmental Manager, United States Department of Defense. Malcolm has thirty years’ experience managing the protection of drinking water quality, and the efficient use of water, on behalf of international corporations and the United States Department of Defense as a consultant and employee, and as a contractor to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. He has project experience and a familiarity with water quality and water rights regulations in China, Germany, Ireland, Canada, and Latin America.
    Malcolm holds an M.S. in geology/geochemistry and a Ph.D. in international water law and possesses thorough technical hydrogeologic training, and is knowledgeable in the legal and political aspects of transboundary surface water bodies and aquifers.
  • Alex Godoy Faundez (Chile) – Director, Sustainability Research Centre and Strategic Resource Management, Universidad del Desarrollo. He is also a Research Associate both to the Water Research Center for Agriculture and Mining (WARCAM) and the Earth Engineering Center at Columbia University, as well as Head of Waste to Energy Research & Technology – Chile at WTERT Council. In his career, he was involved as member of advisory boards to governmental institutions, consultant in environmental innovation and advisor in public affairs, referee for peer-reviewed journals and environmental projects as well as columnist in newspapers. Since 2015, Dr Godoy is a member of the Global Young Academy, aiming to empower and mobilize young scientists to address issues of importance to early career scientists. He is also a member of Nexus KAN of Future Earth organization, an international research programme for global sustainability working on Water-Energy-Food Security nexus. Since November, he is a member of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE), UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), FAO.
  • Maxwell Anim Gyampo (Ghana) – Student, PhD in Water Resources Management and Engineering, University for Development Studies (UDS). He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Engineering and a Master of Science in Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation, all from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. He also teaches hydrogeology and water quality at Earth and Environmental Science Department of the University for Development Studies, Navrongo in Ghana. His interests include groundwater vulnerability assessment, hydrogeochemistry, and development of low-cost technology the treatment of water for rural water supply. He is a member of international water resources association (IWRA), International association of hydrogeologist (IAH), African Groundwater Network (AGW-Net) and Ghana Institute of Engineers (GhIE). He has over fifteen years in consulting and academic working experience in the water, environmental sanitation and hydrogeology fields.
  • Rajiv Kangabam (India) – Post-Doctoral Fellow, Agricultural Biotechnology, Assam Agricultural University. He has obtained his PhD in Environmental Biotechnology from Bharathidasan University. Dr. Kangabam has been awarded various prestigious research grants and among are Ramsar Research Grant and international travel award from Society of Wetland Scientists in 2013 and 2014. The government of Manipur awarded him with the Environmentalist Award 2015 for his pioneering research work in the region and his research findings on Loktak Lake. The International Association of Great Lakes Research awarded him with the International travel Scholarship for attending the 59th Annual Conference. His project work on conservation of eldii deer was granted financial assistance from the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong in the year 2015-16. He is also an active member of IUCN’s – WCPA.
  • D.L. Marrin (United States) – Consulting Scientist, Water Sciences & Insights. Dr. Marrin is a scientist, educator, and founder of two consulting firms and a multimedia forum for assisting environmental, entrepreneurial, and educational groups on diverse projects related to water quality and to forensic aspects of water chemistry. He has authored three books and numerous papers covering water pollution and remediation, biogeochemistry, and the water-energy-food nexus. As a former adjunct professor at San Diego State University, his degrees span the biological, environmental, and water resource sciences. Although currently based in California, he works throughout North America and the Pacific Rim.
  • Saskia Nowicki (Canada) – Student, PhD in Water Quality and Health, University of Oxford. Saskia is a doctoral candidate working with the REACH water security programme and the
    Water Programme of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford. She focuses on water-related health risks and is particularly interested in the generation,
    communication and uses of water quality information. Her current research is primarily based in Kenya. Previously she worked as a consultant – first in Canada with SRK Consulting as a
    geochemist (primarily working on mining-related projects) and then briefly in the UK with the Water Team at Oxford Policy Management (supporting and evaluating water, sanitation and
    hygiene projects). She has a MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management from the University of Oxford and a BSc in Environmental Science from McGill University.
  • Amrisha Pandey (India) – Student, PhD in International Environmental Law, University of Leeds. She is a lifetime member of the Indian Bar Council from 2011 onwards. Amrisha was a practising lawyer in India for a year and a half before continuing further studies. Later in 2012, she enrolled for post-graduation degree of LLM in International Environmental Law from the University of Nottingham, England. Currently, she is pursuing the last year of her Ph.D. and the working title of her thesis is ‘Governance of Freshwater as a Natural Resource: A Case Study of India’.
  • Jocelyn Pesquera (Philippines) – Member, Cebu City Council. She is a lawyer, certified public accountant and licensed real estate appraiser.  A member of the Cebu City Council (Legislative Body) serving her fourth term.  Prior to her re-election as City Councilor, she served as a Board Member of the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) in 2015.
  • Roxana Salazar (Costa Rica) – Member, Board of Directors, Costa Rica National Institute for Water and Sanitation. She is a lawyer from University of Costa Rica with a Master in Policy and Planning of Environment from Cornell University. She has significant experience in working with local communities in sustainable development in the Central America region. For many years, she’s being the Executive director of AMBIO Foundation.
  • Raya Stephan (France) – Consultant, Legal expert, IWRA Board Director & IWRA Scientific, Technical & Publications Committee. She is an expert in water law, and an international consultant in water related projects with international organizations. She has a wide experience in the design and execution of international projects related to legal and institutional aspects of water management, and transboundary waters. She was involved in the experts advisory group of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Program to the Special Rapporteur of the UN International Law Commission for the preparation of the draft articles on the law of transboundary aquifers. She has also advised on the application of international water law for the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the Arab League. She was a member of the Publications Committee of the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) (2010-2012), and she chaired it and served on the Executive Board from 2013-2015. Ms Stephan is the author of numerous publications related to water law and international water law.
  • Carla Toranzo (Peru) -She is an expert in Water & Sanitation (W&S) with a wide domain of the Latin American institutional framework. She has a vast experience with more than 20 years in the areas of design, management, supervision and evaluation of projects and public policies, particularly in Transports, Buildings, Energy, and W&S. She has served as consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank [IDB], as part of the management team in charge of the W&S portfolio with Peru. She has served as Program (Global Water) Officer for Latin America for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and led a portfolio of projects mainly in Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico and Chile. She has served in technical and managerial positions for the private sector and for the Government of Peru. She is author of publications on W&S and Sustainable Infrastructure.
  • Sisira Withanachchi (Germany) – Student, PhD in Water Quality Governance, University of Kassel. He is a junior scientist in the Department of Organic Food Quality and Food Culture in the University of Kassel, Germany. He is pursuing the doctoral studies under the supervision of Prof. Dr Angelika Ploeger. Withanachchi is contributing to the World Water Development Report of the United Nations since 2012 and he is working as a managing editor of the “Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society”. He served as an expert reviewer in the IPCC 2014 (AR 5) Report. His research expertise is in water quality governance and management.
  • Hua Xie (United States) – Research Fellow, Environment and Production Technology Division, International Food Policy Research Institute. Hua Xie is a research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). He holds a PhD in environmental engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His area of expertise is water resources and environmental system analysis and modeling. At IFPRI, his research focuses on developing quantitative analytical and modeling tools to inform policy making for sustainable management of water and other natural resources key to agricultural development. Research topics of interest include: climate change impact on agricultural water resources, long-term projection of agricultural nutrient pollution, and evaluation of water land management technologies.


The Road to the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia

With this background and expertise in water quality, IWRA continues to act as the Topic Lead through the Implementation Roadmap to the 8th World Water Forum to be held between March 18 and 23, 2018, in Brasilia, Brazil. In Brasilia, “Ensuring Water Quality from Ridge to Reef” has become a Topic under the Theme of “Ecosystems – Water Quality, Ecosystem Livelihoods and Biodiversity”.

A key milestone on the road to the 8th World Water Forum was indeed IWRA’s XVI World Water Congress (29 May – 3 June 2017) in Cancun, Mexico. One of the Congress’s main themes focused on “Water Quality, Wastewater and Reuse” (including implementation of SDG 6.3 with links to SDG 14.1), tackling water quality and pollution management – “from ridge to reef”, contaminants of emerging concern, water technologies and the circular economy – reduce, remove, reuse. Moreover, it collaborated with the S2S Platform that gathers approximately 25 organisations hosting a dedicated Special Session (SS 62) – Towards SDG Implementation – Ensuring Water Quality from Source to Sea. This successful session, focused on managing seawater and freshwater jointly, not separately, a crucial issue that brought together international actors working on the governance and management of water quality both from oceans and freshwater sources. As a result, this event raised awareness within the water community, including lawyers and policymakers, in order to suggest a new framework when approaching water pollution.

The host of the 8th World Water Forum, the World Water Council (established through the Cairo Declaration during a special session at IWRA’s VII World Water Congress), is supporting the IWRA’s work in response to increasing concerns on global water challenges and priorities, including water quality. The latter, is also highly relevant as a cross-cutting issue among other SDGs, equally relevant for the Theme 3.3. These include for instance, understanding that water quality from “ridge to reef” includes interaction between “green investment” in water basins and the blue economy of oceans, sea and marine resources (SDG 14), as well as the importance of water quality to protect, restore and promote freshwater ecosystems and wetlands (SDG 15).