The IWA Specialty Group for Tastes, Odours, and Algal Toxins in Drinking Water Resources and Aquaculture is concerned with factors in source water, drinking water, and aquaculture products that that affect human perception and aesthetic qualities. Worldwide, consumers demand drinking water, fish, and shellfish that are safe and have desirable flavour and appearance qualities. Simultaneously, source waters that support aquaculture or become drinking water continue to be under increased environmental stresses due to climate change, chemical spills, chemical and microbial contamination, nutrient inputs, algal blooms, and cyanotoxins. These stresses lead to unwanted tastes, odours, algae, and potential adverse health effects.
Professionals associated with this Specialty Group strive to protect all waters – fresh, estuarine, sea, desalinated, and drinking waters – to eliminate harmful toxins and nuisance tastes, odours, colours/particles and thus protect public health. This is accomplished through describing specific tastes, odours, colours/particles; identifying chemical and/or microbial causes of these aesthetic issues with consideration of broad natural and anthropogenic sources including role of ecology and limnology, chemical and nutrient inputs; materials in contact with water and aquaculture products; implementing natural or engineered treatments for control; assessing consumer satisfaction with quality of drinking water, fish, and shellfish.
A key transformational development in this field will be a bottoms up approach of everyone – the public, consumers and professionals – demanding protection of water resources from climate change, chemical spills, chemical and microbial contamination, nutrient inputs, and algal blooms. Protecting public health and valuing public perception of water are essential to sustainable and safe water for the future.