Testing times

With the WFD looming, the need for specialist laboratory services is set to grow. ET2006 is the place to find out more, writes Elaine Coles of IMS Consulting

Over the past 20 years, the water and wastewater industry has had to meet an increasingly complex, legislation-driven array of quality, environmental and health and safety standards. As a result, the sector has increasingly looked towards specialist external laboratory services as providers of expert and authoritative analysis to enable them to meet their goals.

The upcoming Water Framework Directive (WFD), with the likelihood of much lower detection levels for a wider range of pollutants, is set to impose significant additional pressure on the sector. The water and wastewater industry has to keep up to speed with both UK and EU legislation and regulation. And it has to be aware of a correspondingly wide range of accreditation systems and quality standards in order to make an informed choice of analytical laboratory services.

Key to achieving strategic and operational WFD-related goals will be ensuring that the laboratory chosen meets the demands of quality systems such as UKAS (Testing), ISO 9001, MCERTS, ISO 9001, ISO 17025 or ISO 14001. Or the labs will need to be verified by external proficiency schemes. Labs also need to be able to turn large amounts of data into accurate and verifiable information to meet the needs of a wide range of users.
The Environment Agency is currently developing the new monitoring and classification systems required under the WFD. According to environment minister Elliot Morley: "The use of increasingly sophisticated technology, as well as the wide-ranging requirements of the Water Framework Directive, means we are now able to make use of modern-day science to better understand and address the pressures our actions have on the waters in our environment."

This view is endorsed by Dave Goodwin of leading analytical laboratory Alcontrol AWA. "Driven by changes in legislation, over the last 20 years there have been immense changes in laboratory support to the domestic and environmental economy," he says. "Regulations and constant monitoring required by the water supply industry allow the process of water supply and wastewater treatment to continue, while industry has also seen the legislation tighten on the quality of water it discharges as wastewater, or effluent to receivers. The requirement for laboratory support has increased significantly and it would appear set to continue."

For more information...
Alcontrol is exhibiting at ET2006, the UK's leading environmental technology and management services exhibition. At the exhibition, water and wastewater professionals will be able to talk to some of the key players in the laboratory services market, and attend free seminars and briefings where many key issues surrounding the directive will be addressed in depth. For example British Water, which is again hosting the Water Information Zone, is running a seminar specifically focused on the implications of the directive.

While no definitive figures are yet available for the likely costs of implementing the WFD, Defra has estimated sums for the reduction of priority and priority hazardous substances entering WwTWs to be in the order of ý450M-ý630M pa. UKWIR suggests that as much as ý6B may be needed for the removal of priority substances at half of all WTWs in England and Wales. Given expenditure of this magnitude, the WFD undoubtedly represents a significant opportunity for analytical laboratories.
The WFD means that monitoring, sampling and analysis requirements will become even more important for the laboratories, their end-users and regulators alike. For water and wastewater professionals looking for further information on water and waste water analysis, key sources of information in this field are the publications of the Standing Committee Of Analysts (SCA).

Managed by the Environment Agency, the SCA has produced a series of booklets, Methods for the Examination of Waters and Associated Materials, which are intended to provide authoritative guidance on recommended methods of sampling and analysis for determining the quality of drinking water, ground water, river water and sea water, waste water and effluents as well as sewage sludges, sediments and biota.

This work will undoubtedly at some stage encompass the new requirements of the directive. ET2006 will likewise offer them the ideal opportunity to find out about the issues and latest developments in the marketplace.

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