Water Quality Management

You will study the water quality impacts of human activities on aquatic ecosystems, as well as possible remedial actions, considering different levels of environmental stress and in various socio-economic contexts. 

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    What is Delft based

    This programme will run entirely at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, the Netherlands

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Delft based, IHE Delft, The Netherlands18 months, starts in October

For whom?

The Water Quality Management thematic profile is designed for engineers and scientists responsible for or involved in planning, developing and implementation of water quality policies, strategies and programmes. Affinity with chemistry and biology is required for this thematic profile. 


The degree students receive from IHE Delft is the MSc degree in Water Management and Governance


Start: 18 October 2018
Application deadline: 01 August 2018

Learning objectives

After completing the Water Management and Governance MSc programme and this thematic profile, you will be able to:

  • Describe and predict for a given water resources system the main hydrological, hydraulic, chemical and biological processes and how these processes are dynamically linked with aquatic ecosystems as well as with human activities such as land and water use and pollution;
  • Describe and explain the main concepts and instruments for analysing and influencing formal and informal arrangements for water quality management, including policies, laws and institutions, and by adopting a historical perspective;
  • Explain the key concepts for integrated, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary analyses of aquatic ecosystems and describe the challenges of such approaches;
  • Describe concepts to determine the value of water for various uses and users in (amongst others) economic and ecological terms and explain how these concepts can be used in water resources planning at various spatial and temporal scales.

Structure & contents

The taught part of the Water Management and Governance MSc programme consists of 14 modules, of which 7 are specific for this thematic study profile. The taught part covers a total of 12 months and is followed by a 6-month research and thesis phase. Graduates of the programme will be awarded 106 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits.

  • October - April

    IHE Delft, the Netherlands
    • Week 1 + Principles of Integrated Water Resources Management Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Summarize the latest insights, context and concepts in integrated water management that are under debate in international and regional forums.
      2. Explain the main arguments for an integrated approach in the field of water management.
      3. Describe the major natural functions and human uses of river systems.
      4. Summarize the basics of GIS and Remote Sensing, and apply the techniques for typical applications in water management.
      5. Explain what science is and what scientific research entails including distinguishing the main methodological approaches.
    • The Water Resources System Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe how the physical water resources system works, and illustrate the interaction between quantity and quality (chemical, biological, ecological), between surface water, soil water and groundwater, between stocks and fluxes. Explain major natural functions and human use of water resources systems focusing on river systems including groundwater, wetlands, lakes/reservoirs and estuaries.
      2. Identify basic components to characterise the quantitative and qualitative nature of a water resources system and able to analyse the hydrology of a water resources systems.
      3. Discuss the main issues of debate in an integrated water resources system underpinned by description of the biophysical, chemical and hydrological processes and their interactions, natural functions and human use of a water resources system.
    • Water Governance Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Identify and analyse actors and decision making processes related to water governance
      2. Distinguish and explain main discourses and theories on water governance
      3. Identify context, purpose, perspective and arguments of scientific papers on water governance
      4. Compare and contrast different scientific papers, case studies and theories on dynamic and political nature of water governance
    • Water Economics Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the principles of economics and the relevance of economics to water management
      2. Explain the cause of water resource issues using economic theory and concepts
      3. Identify economic instruments for water resource management
      4. Describe economic approaches to estimating the value of water in different use
      5. Apply economic theory and method to analyze issues of water resource management
    • Water and Environmental Law Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. demonstrate and apply knowledge in the fields of national and international water and environmental law and to perceive and discuss the main concepts, theories, discourses
      2. apply, compose and recreate legal instruments to operationalize integrated water resources management (water quantity and water quality)
      3. demonstrate and apply knowledge in the field of contract management for use in water projects.
      4. analyze and prepare a contract for a specific situation
      5. describe and apply concepts of water allocation, water rights and international benefit sharing
      6. discuss and explain complexity of decision making for water allocation in national and international rivers.
    • Water Quality Assessment Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe different water pollutant groups, their risks and fates, and ways of modelling these fates
      2. Describe and apply the different tools,criteria and assessment methods for succesful monitoring of surface waters in river basins
      3. Describe basic groundwater quality monitoring concepts
      4. Design sustainable water quality monitoring programmes for river basins
    • Wetlands for Water Quality Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. assess the value of wetlands and explain the use of natural and constructed wetlands for the treatment of wastewater;
      2. describe the concept of wastewater treatment by wetlands;
      3. design and operate a wetland treatment system.
    • Environmental Engineering Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the basic chemical and biological processes and their engineering in water and wastewater treatment;
      2. Evaluate different approaches to wastewater treatment and select the best option for local conditions.
    • Environmental Planning and Implementation Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Explain the concept and importance of sustainable development into environmental planning and management
      2. demonstrate basic knowledge on the principles, processes and methods of environmental assessment (EIA-SEA) and be able to apply them in water related plans, programmes and projects
      3. Apply and discuss economic valuation methods and policy instruments for environmental policy
      4. Apply basic theories behind policy enforcement, monitoring and evaluation to master effective environmental policies
      5. Use environmental information systems to support planning and management
    • International Fieldwork Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Compare the different water management perspectives and uses in practice in Spain and Portugal. Issues that will be elaborated upon during the fieldwork include Multiple uses for and multiple sources of water; Up and downstream water issues; Institutional framework and implementation of the EU WFD; Public and private water supply; Conventional and alternative waste water treatment and reuse; Large Dams and transboundary river basin issues; Ancient vs modern irrigation and water supply systems; Non conventional water resources: desalination and wastewater reuse; Formal and informal decision making processes.
      2. Formulate a problem statement
      3. Collect and analyse data from field measurements and interviews
      4. Develop a problem analysis
    • Aquatic Ecosystems Processes and Applications Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Conduct laboratory techniques used for basic limnological studies. Specifically, you will be able to measure physical-chemical properties, chlorophyll a concentration in seston and periphyton; measure and calculate primary production and community respiration, measure nutrient concentration and turbidity, calculate and measure ash free dry mass, and perform zooplankton counts.
      2. Develop a research question based on the experimental design.
      3. Analyze data using either statistical or modeling techniques to answer your research question.
      4. Produce a report in the format of a scientific article that presents your research question, the data supporting it, and a discussion of your results, including a review of relevant literature.
      5. Critically analyze your colleagues' work in the form of a professional peer review.
    • Watershed and River Basin Management Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. describe the main natural and anthropogenic interactions at a watershed scale; and how they can be aggregated to rive basin scale
      2. describe the role of water in sustaining different land uses, including ecosystems
      3. understand the watershed planning and management approaches, specifically in terms of soil and water management
      4. explain temporal and spatial scales issues in hydrology
      5. characterize the fundamental economic issues in watersheds and river basins and the role of economic valuation of acquatic ecosystem services in watershed and river basin management
    • Summer Course and Research and Academic Skills Development for WM Elective
    • IWRM Groupwork Elective
    • MSc Preparatory Course and Thesis Research Proposal for WM Required

Application & Admission

Apply to the Water Management and Governance MSc Programme and enroll in this thematic profile during the course of the programme.


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