Water Monitoring Parameters

Parameters Used To Measure Water Quality!

Water Monitoring Parameters

How is Water Monitoring Completed?

Water monitoring is different for the different bodies of water being analysed. This blog summarises the water monitoring parameters for each specific water body in Ireland.

The quality of water is determined by a number of indicators. These consist of the pH scale, water temperature, nitrates, bioindicators, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen.

Southern Scientific Services Offer Water Monitoring Specific for Each Water Body.


What are the Different Water Monitoring Parameters Important for Measuring Water Quality?

Water monitoring parameters in Ireland, like in many other countries, involves measuring various different aspects of water quality to assess the health and safety of water bodies. These parameters provide insights into the presence of contaminants, the overall condition of the water, and its suitability for various uses, including drinking, recreational activities, and ecological health. Some of the key parameters important for measuring water quality in Ireland include:

Physical Water Monitoring Parameters:

    • Temperature: Temperature affects the solubility of gases and the metabolic rates of aquatic organisms. It can also indicate potential sources of pollution.
    • Turbidity: Turbidity measures the cloudiness or haziness of water caused by the presence of suspended particles. High turbidity can impact aquatic life and water treatment processes.


Chemical Water Monitoring Parameters:

      • pH: pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of the water. It is crucial for understanding the suitability of water for aquatic life and for various industrial and agricultural purposes.
      • Dissolved Oxygen (DO): DO levels are vital for the survival of aquatic organisms. Low DO levels can lead to fish kills and ecosystem degradation.
      • Nutrient Levels: Parameters like nitrate and phosphate levels are important indicators of nutrient pollution, which can lead to harmful algal blooms and reduced water quality.
      • Heavy Metals: Monitoring for heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and mercury is essential to detect contamination from industrial and mining activities.
      • Organic and Inorganic Compounds: These include pesticides, herbicides, and various organic and inorganic pollutants. Their presence can have serious environmental and human health impacts.


Biological Water Monitoring Parameters:

    • Bacteria (E. coli and coliform): Monitoring for bacterial contamination is crucial for assessing the safety of water for recreational activities and drinking water sources.
    • Biotic Indices: These involve assessing the presence and diversity of various aquatic organisms as indicators of overall water quality and ecological health.


Suspended Solids: This water monitoring parameter measures the amount of particulate matter suspended in the water, which can affect water clarity and impact aquatic life.

Ammonia and Nitrogen Compounds: Ammonia and nitrate levels are important for assessing nutrient pollution and its impact on water quality and aquatic ecosystems.

Sediment Quality: Monitoring sediment quality can provide insights into the accumulation of contaminants and pollutants in the bottom of water bodies, which can impact aquatic life.

Radionuclides: In some regions, monitoring for radionuclides is necessary to ensure the safety of drinking water sources.

Emerging Contaminants: With evolving environmental concerns, monitoring for emerging contaminants like pharmaceuticals and personal care products is gaining importance.

Algal Biomass: Measuring algal biomass helps in understanding the potential for harmful algal blooms, which can produce toxins and affect water quality and safety.

Hydrological Parameters: These water monitoring parameters include flow rates, water level, and the velocity of water bodies, which are essential for understanding the movement and dynamics of water systems.

Water quality monitoring in Ireland is conducted by various agencies and organisations, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local authorities. The data collected from monitoring activities helps in maintaining and improving water quality, protecting public health, and conserving the country’s aquatic ecosystems.

Discussing Water Monitoring Parameters Based on Different Water Bodies:


Biological monitoring occurs every three years:

  1. Invertebrates (animals without a backbone, such as mayflies or worms)
  2. Aquatic plants
  3. Diatoms (a type of algae)
  4. Fish (monitored by Inland Fisheries Ireland)


Physical and chemical parameters are measured multiple times annually:

  1. Dissolved oxygen
  2. Nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus)
  3. Hazardous substances
  4. Temperature
  5. pH (acidity).


Water Monitoring parameters
River Shannon




Plants and Animals once every three years:

  1. Phytoplankton (tiny, free-floating plants)
  2. Diatoms (type of algae)
  3. Aquatic plants
  4. Invertebrates
  5. Fish (monitored by Inland Fisheries Ireland)


Chemical and Physical Parameters are measured several times a year: 

  1. Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus
  2. Dissolved oxygen
  3. Temperature
  4. Water clarity
  5. Colour


Hydrological Parameters: Water Levels.

Water Monitoring parameters
Lough Neagh



  • Standard Suite (tested 3 times a year)-  pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, orp, coliform bacteria, e.coli, alkalinity, total hardness, colour, turbidity, total oxidised nitrogen (as N), ammonium, nitrite, nitrate, total phosphorus, ortho-phosphate, total organic carbon, silica, chloride, fluoride, sulphate, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, boron, aluminium, chromium, nickel, copper, zinc, arsenic, cadmium, antimony, barium, lead, uranium, mercury, cobalt, molybdenum, strontium, silver (stopped in 2013), beryllium, selenium, thallium, vanadium.


  • Additional Suite (tested every 6 years)- pesticides, organic compounds (including PFAS), pharmaceutical compounds.

Water Monitoring parameters


Estuaries and Coastal Waters

  • The biological communities that are monitored include: Tiny free-floating plants, Animals without a backbone living in the bottom muds (benthic invertebrates), Fish, Opportunistic seaweeds (seaweeds that grow very quickly when environmental conditions suit, causing large accumulations of plant matter such as sea lettuce), Rocky shore seaweeds, Seagrass (the only true marine plant found in Irish waters), Saltmarsh (a community of salt-tolerant plants that form a band along the upper tidal limit of water bodies).


  • The water monitoring parameters also include: Dissolved oxygen, Nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus, and Specific chemical pollutants.
Malahide Estuaries- Water Monitoring parameters
Malahide Estuaries


To find out more on specific testing for water monitoring parameters for rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries, and coastal waters, click here.

H2.0 – Revealing the Future of Water Quality.

Water Quality Advancements for the Future. With the world progressing at breakneck speed, our water quality in water sources faces some challenges, but there is a silver lining: new and existing technologies could provide potential solutions to upgrading the water quality. In this article, we will delve deep into the

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