Role of the International Commission on Water Quality

The International Commission on Water Quality (ICWQ) is responsible for promoting the advancement of the water quality of hydrological systems, including assessment and management. This goal is accomplished informally through communications among interested members/participants, and through organized technology transfer activities such as workshops on topical issues and symposia at which scientists present their results in oral and poster sessions and in accompanying publication (IAHS Red Book) of the proceedings.

The Commission not only organizes and sponsors significant international and regional symposia and workshops, but collaborates with other groups such as the other IAHS Commissions, national and international scientific organizations on subjects of joint interest.

The Commission has contributed to previous International Hydrological Programmes (IHP) and will contribute to several themes of the proposed IHP-VI programme, especially those with respect to global changes and water resources (Theme 1) and water and society (Theme 3). Some of the IHP-VI specific issues that will receive attention by the Commission in future symposia and workshops include:


  • Water supply
  • Water quality and human health
  • Integrated assessment of water resources
  • The changing water quality of receiving waters as a consequence of land-based activities
  • Scaling issues in water-quality from laboratory and plot scale to large drainage basin and from the science including process understanding and modeling to the human dimension including resource management and conflict resolution
  • Development and protection of vulnerable environments

Integrated water resources management recently has had stronger emphasis on water quality. During the next decade, considerable effort by NGO's, national and international scientific, management and policy agencies/organizations toward the understanding and resolution of water quality issues is expected. The Commission can provide input to these efforts by calling experts together to address critical problems and can serve these organizations by identifying experts to help solve these problems. The Commission has already identified some key water-quality issues needing further research and assessment as per below, and will endorse activities to provide some input on these issues.


  • Effect of water quality on human health
  • Interdisciplinary investigations of the transformation and transport of contaminants
  • International Standards for water-quality monitoring and assessment
  • Regional water quality assessments
  • Evaluation of the relation between water quality and global change
  • Effect of hydrologic episodes, such as floods and droughts, on water quality
  • Applicability of tracers in water-quality investigations
  • Technical support for training on water-quality-related issues in developing countries