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Combined Standards and Recommendations

Table of typical water quality tests used at Water Missions. This table includes their description, limits, reasons and actions to take if the value is too high.
For a more in-depth view of water quality standards used please see:
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The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is the division of the government in the United States that helps to protect its citizens with water quality standards. The national primary drinking water standards are mandatory standards. When the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) is exceeded, their are potential negative health effect, as shown in the attached table. The national secondary drinking water standards are non-enforceable guidelines that regulate contaminants which may cause cosmetic (skin or tooth discoloration) or aesthetic effects (bad taste, odor or appearance).

Relation to Water Missions

Water Missions references the US EPA's drinking water standards as a guideline for treating drinking water.


US EPA Primary and secondary drinking water standards

World Health Organization (WHO)


"The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system. WHO experts produce health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health issues."


WHO Drinking water guidelines Volume 1 3rd Edition

Disaster Response



A few years ago humanitarian groups and NGOs drafted a humanitarian charter and a minimum standards for disaster response based off of international law. The humanitarian charter component defines what rights people have in certain situations and the minimum standards component defines what and how the services should be available.

Relation to Water Missions

Water Missions addresses the first two standards at every location. To satisfy the first condition:

Safe drinking water:
  • Is not refused to any community member based on any characteristic that may distinguish one person from another (age, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, class, financial means, etc)
  • Has sufficient volume and in a central location.
  • The water sources and systems are maintained to provide consistent water quality and quantity
  • The queuing time (number of minutes someone has to wait for water) and the time to fill a container depend on the local set up and is the safe water committee's responsibility. If they need technical guidance, they are welcome to contact a country program office.

To satisfy the second standard of water quality:
  • The H&H participatory training involves people going out and identifying poor sanitation and hygiene practices.
  • The treated water is regularly tested for free chlorine and fecal coliforms
  • The protected water is promoted over the unprotected sites by the Safe Water Committee


Other Guidelines


Although WMI and most other organizations use SPHERE Standards during disaster relief, it is important to note that other guidelines are used as well.


Oxfam is a well-known humanitarian organization in Asia, Africa and South America. They focus on access to food, providing basic necessities, and promoting hygiene during disaster response.

USAID Field Operations Guide for Disaster Assistance

Developed by by the U.S. Agency for International Development/Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). This Field Operations Guide contains information on general responsibilities for disaster responders, formats and reference material for assessing and reporting on populations at risk, DART position descriptions and duty checklists, descriptions of OFDA stockpile commodities, general information related to disaster activities, information on working with the military in the field, and a glossary of acronyms and terms used by OFDA and other organizations with which OFDA works.

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