What Is Turbidity and How Does It Impact Water Quality?


Water is a precious resource that must be kept clean and safe for consumption. One of the factors that affect water quality is turbidity. High turbidity levels can impact water quality. By measuring turbidity levels in the water, water managers can monitor and maintain water quality, identify potential problems, and take appropriate actions to protect public health and the environment.

So, What Is Turbidity?

Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of water caused by suspended solids. These solids could be organic or inorganic matter such as clay, silt, plankton, or other microscopic organisms. Turbidity can be measured by a turbidity meter, which quantifies the amount of light scattered by particles in water.

Turbidity measurement is usually calculated in nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) or formazin nephelometric units (FNU). The higher the NTU or FNU value, the cloudier the water.

Turbidity and Water Quality:

Turbidity has several effects on water quality. Here are a few examples of how turbidity can affect water quality:

Affecting Drinking Water Quality:

Turbidity is one of the parameters used to assess drinking water quality. High turbidity levels in drinking water can indicate the presence of pathogens, which can cause illnesses such as diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever.

Impact on Aquatic Ecosystems:

High turbidity levels can impact aquatic ecosystems by reducing the amount of light that penetrates the water column. This can impact the growth of aquatic plants, which in turn can affect the food chain and the overall health of the ecosystem.

Impact on Water Treatment:

Turbidity can also impact water treatment processes. High levels of turbidity can interfere with disinfection processes such as chlorination, which can lead to inadequate treatment and the presence of pathogens in drinking water.


High turbidity levels can affect the appearance of water, making it appear cloudy or murky. This can impact the value of water for recreational purposes such as swimming or fishing.

Measuring and Managing Turbidity:

Measuring turbidity is an important step in managing water quality. Turbidity can be measured using a turbidity monitor or turbidity analysers to determine the cloudiness of water.

Ways to Manage and Reduce Turbidity:

Here are four steps to manage turbidity levels:

Source Water Management:

Managing sources of sediment, such as erosion and runoff, can help reduce turbidity in water sources.


Treatment processes such as coagulation, flocculation, and sedimentation can help remove suspended solids and reduce turbidity levels in the water.


Regular monitoring of turbidity levels can help detect any changes in water quality and ensure that treatment processes are effective.

Regulatory Compliance:

Regulatory agencies set standards for turbidity levels in drinking water to ensure water is safe for consumption.

Turbidity is an important parameter that affects water quality. By taking steps such as managing sources of turbidity, treatment, monitoring, and regulatory compliance, we can manage turbidity levels and ensure that our water resources are protected for future generations.

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