16 Jan Do not expect much
This reaction is to correct some wrongs we saw this late afternoon in the TV screen, about a ministerial inauguration of water sampling for laboratory analysis and covering all the rivers of Kerala.
We, the public saw Mr. PJ Joseph, minister for PWD, inaugurating water sample collection (happened in the shores of Karamana Ar.) as part of a project to monitor water quality of the Kerala Rivers. The program inaugurated deals with the physical, chemical and microbiological monitoring of samples of water from all the 41 west flowing and 3 east flowing rivers. My contentious point is regarding the 1st step in the program, i.e., the collection of water sample. The basic assumption of sampling process is that the sample shall be representative of the whole.
On the contrary the visuals showed, the minister bending down and dipping a near white polyester cup from the river shore, to gather enough water to be a sample of the whole at the sampled transect in the Karamana Ar.
As a student of science – river science if you wish to call me that way- I had umpteen number of opportunities for collection of water samples from streams/rivers of Kerala, strictly following the principles of sampling of river water.
The name of the game is collecting a sample at a point where the water is well mixed, so that the sample collected will be a sample by definition. If the flow depth is larger three samples –one from the surface, one from the near bottom and third from a depth in between the first two- are collected. The storage and transport of the samples are yet another story. The ambient temp of the water in the site is to be maintained the sample container during transport and storage.
The samples of water collected from the river shore are undoubtedly far from satisfactory for water quality monitoring. Unfortunately all these basic norms of water sample collection are violated in the inauguration of the project, giving the wrong idea to the informed public regarding the collection of water samples from rivers. Unfortunately, the CWRDM (Kozhikod) also follows a procedure in water sampling, very much similar to what we saw in the TV screen this evening.
I am sure that the minister is not to be blamed for the erroneous procedure. Instead, the blame squarely rests on the scientists/technologists who advised the minister about water sampling from streams/rivers. In fact, tomorrow onwards several water samples will be collected without any worth and so I suggest if your “Hindu” can correct the wrong please do not hesitate.