UBC engineers have created a tool that will help municipalities measure water quality, as a way to ensure clean and safe drinking water is coming out of the taps.

Nilufar Islam, who recently received her PhD from UBC Okanagan, has been working with Professor Rehan Sadiq, associate dean of the School of Engineering and Professor Manuel Rodriguez from Laval University, to develop a water quality index to improve the interpretation of drinking water quality in distribution networks.

Disinfectants, commonly used in water to ensure it is safe to drink, can react with natural organic matters in the water, or the distribution system, to create disinfection by-products (DBPs). These DBPs including trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids are known to have potential reproductive and development effects.

Islam and Sadiq created a “non-compliance potential (NCP) index” to allow for the interpretation of numerous measurements of diverse water quality parameters as simple as possible.

The NCP index is designed to merge difficult to understand data into simple indicators that show municipalities whether their water systems are, or are likely to, contain unwanted byproducts that are created when disinfectants react with organic materials in the water system.

The index has been used recently to study water distribution systems in many Canadian cities.

Sadiq said, “As many small municipalities do not have the technical and financial resources to collect and decipher water quality data on a regular basis, tools such as the NCP index could help them target how and where they spend their time and money.”

Water Canada profiles Nilufar Islam in the September/October issue of Water Canada.

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