What Does a Water Quality Scientist Do?

Water quality scientists are vital to the environment and to public health. Two main areas of consideration for these scientists are raw water, including lakes and rivers, and treated water, which is water filtered and disinfected at a water treatment plant. Additionally, these scientists often specialize in drinking water, ground water or surface water. They are responsible for all aspects of water quality and they analyze water samples and set standards for water purity in accordance with legislation.

What Are The Professional Duties of a Water Quality Scientist?

Water Quality Scientists routinely evaluate water samples, using set standards. They perform scientific tests to determine toxin or pollutant levels in the water, and whether there are high microbial levels. If samples fall short of the standards, the scientist investigates the violations.

Some of the tasks Water Quality Scientists perform on the job are:
• Taking of water samples
• Testing the samples
• Analyzing data from the tests
• Visiting, and investigating the sites of reported violations
• Working with customers and government representatives

Why Water Quality Scientists Are Important

According to Water.org approximately 3.4 million people die each year from a water-related disease. There is a limited supply of water and it is vital that we preserve it, and keep it clean. With the worldwide explosion of manufacturing and the emphasis on a “green planet,” this care for our water supply is increasingly difficult. That is why Water Quality Scientists are in demand today. In the course of their duties, they study the effect of water pollution on the environment and on human health. In addition, the increasing costs of goods and services makes likely that businesses will defer replacing old water delivery systems (pipes), and water quality scientists study the long term effect this has on water quality. Scientists can make water delivery more efficient by studying and reporting on what happens to water after it leaves the treatment plant. The encroachment of society upon virgin land dictates that the scientists study the effect of activities and buildings in proximity to bodies of water upon the purity of the water. Besides the unintended effect that humans have on the water, there is also contamination from industrial waste. Water Quality Scientists, after determining that there is contamination, often act as advisors to the businesses involved. They may also be witnesses in legal proceedings against negligent manufacturers.

What Education Must Water Quality Scientists Have?

At minimum, according to the website Work for Water, Water Quality Scientists must have a university, or tertiary, degree in chemistry, earth science, biology or related disciplines. Because there are few entry-level jobs in the field, most scientists will specialize in one aspect of water quality. These people must also have good science skills, including accumulating and translation of data. They have to be good communicators as well because some of the scientists at higher levels become liaisons to government agencies and work in education.

With greater urbanization and the increase in world population, world leaders and businessmen alike are concerned for the safety of the water supply. Water Quality Scientists are in a burgeoning field.