Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 143, Issue 1–3, pp 91–102 | Cite as

Economics of place-based monitoring under the safe drinking water act, part II: Design and development of place-based monitoring strategies

  • Edwin Brands
  • R. Rajagopal


The goals of environmental legislation and associated regulations are to protect public health, natural resources, and ecosystems. In this context, monitoring programs should provide timely and relevant information so that the regulatory community can implement legislation in a cost-effective and efficient manner. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1974 attempts to ensure that public water systems (PWSs) supply safe water to its consumers. As is the case with many other federal environmental statutes, SDWA monitoring has been implemented in relatively uniform fashion across the United States. In this three part series, spatial and temporal patterns in water quality data are utilized to develop, compare, and evaluate the economic performance of alternative place-based monitoring approaches to current monitoring practice. Part II: Several factors affect the performance of monitoring strategies, including: measurable objectives, required precision in estimates, acceptable confidence levels of such estimates, available budget for sampling. In this paper, we develop place-based monitoring strategies based on extensive analysis of available historical water quality data (1960–1994) of 19 Iowa community water systems. These systems supply potable water to over 350,000 people. In the context of drinking water, the objective is to protect public health by utilizing monitoring resources to characterize contaminants that are detectable, and are close to exceeding health standards. A place-based monitoring strategy was developed in which contaminants were selected based on their historical occurrence, rather than their appearance on the SDWA contaminant list. In a subset of the water systems, the temporal frequency of monitoring for one ubiquitous contaminant, nitrate, was tailored to patterns in its historical occurrence and concentration. Three sampling allocation models (linear, quadratic, and cubic) based on historic patterns in peak occurrence were developed and evaluated. Random and fixed-interval sampling strategies within the context of such models were also developed and evaluated. Strategies were configured to incorporate a variety of options for frequency and number of samples (depending on budget and the desired precision in estimate of peak concentrations).


Place–based monitoring Water quality Safe drinking water act Monitoring strategy development Performance measures Iowa USA Community water systems Screening Spatial variability Temporal variability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyThe University of IowaIowa CityUSA

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