A framework for monitoring the safety of water services: from measurements to security

Authors: Katrina J. Charles, Saskia Nowicki and Jamie K. Bartram

The sustainable developments goals (SDGs) introduced monitoring of drinking water quality to the international development agenda. At present, Escherichia coli are the primary measure by which we evaluate the safety of drinking water from an infectious disease perspective. Here, we propose and apply a framework to reflect on the purposes of and approaches to monitoring drinking water safety. To deliver SDG 6.1, universal access to safe drinking water, a new approach to monitoring is needed. At present, we rely heavily on single measures of E. coli contamination to meet a normative definition of safety. Achieving and sustaining universal access to safe drinking water will require monitoring that can inform decision making on whether services are managed to ensure safety and security of access.

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Kelly Ann Naylor, Associate Director, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Section, Programme Division, UNICEF

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