Uncertainty of chemical status in surface waters

Małgorzata Loga, Karol Michał Przeździecki

This article addresses the issue of estimating Pom—the probability of misclassifying the chemical status confidence of a water body status assessment. The main concerns of the authors were chemical quality elements with concentrations in water bodies which are close to or even smaller than the limit of quantification (LOQ). Their values must be set to half of this limit to calculate the mean value. This procedure leads to very low standard deviation values and unrealistic values of Pom for chemical indicators. In turn, this may lead to the false conclusion that not only is the chemical status good but also that this status assessment is perfect. Therefore, for a more reliable calculation of Pom, the authors suggested a modified calculation in which the value of half the LOQ for calculating the mean value was kept, but zero as the concentration value for the standard deviation calculation was adopted. The proposed modification has been applied to the Hierarchical Approach procedure for Pom estimation of the chemical status of Polish rivers and lakes. The crucial finding is that current chemical status assessments may be incorrect in the case of approximately 25% of river water bodies and 30% of lake water bodies categorised as good, and 20% of both types of water bodies classified as below good.

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