Traditional approaches for benchmarking drinking water systems are binary, based solely on the compliance and/or non-compliance of one or more water quality performance indicators against defined regulatory guidelines/standards. The consequence of water quality failure is dependent on location within a water supply system as well as time of the year (i.e., season) with varying levels of water consumption. Conventional approaches used for water quality comparison purposes fail to incorporate spatiotemporal variability and degrees of compliance and/or non-compliance. This can lead to misleading or inaccurate performance assessment data used in the performance benchmarking process. In this research, a hierarchical risk-based water quality performance benchmarking framework is proposed to evaluate small drinking water systems (SDWSs) through cross-comparison amongst similar systems. The proposed framework (R WQI framework) is designed to quantify consequence associated with seasonal and location-specific water quality issues in a given drinking water supply system to facilitate more efficient decision-making for SDWSs striving for continuous performance improvement. Fuzzy rule-based modelling is used to address imprecision associated with measuring performance based on singular water quality guidelines/standards and the uncertainties present in SDWS operations and monitoring. This proposed R WQI framework has been demonstrated using data collected from 16 SDWSs in Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec, Canada, and compared to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment WQI, a traditional, guidelines/standard-based approach. The study found that the R WQI framework provides an in-depth state of water quality and benchmarks SDWSs more rationally based on the frequency of occurrence and consequence of failure events.
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 23, 2017
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