ISO standards support objectives of World Water Day 2009

March 20, 2009
ISO's portfolio of more than 18 000 International Standards includes at least 430 which directly or indirectly support the objectives of this year's World Water Day on 22 March of which the theme is "Transboundary waters: shared waters, shared opportunities." The observance of World Water Day is a United Nations initiative. This year, it highlights the challenges raised by the world's 263 trans-boundary lake and river basins...

Mar. 19, 2009 -- ISO's portfolio of more than 18 000 International Standards includes at least 430 which directly or indirectly support the objectives of this year's World Water Day on 22 March of which the theme is "Transboundary waters: shared waters, shared opportunities."

The observance of World Water Day is a United Nations initiative. This year, it highlights the challenges raised by the world's 263 trans-boundary lake and river basins which include the territory of 145 countries and cover nearly half of the Earth's land surface. ISO too is of global dimension, comprising a network of the national standards institutes of 159 countries, representing 97 % of the world's population and 98 % of the world's Gross National Income.

International Standards developed by ISO can contribute to the objectives of World Water Day 2009, which builds on the idea that "nurturing the opportunities for cooperation in transboundary water management can help build mutual respect, understanding and trust among countries and promote peace, security and sustainable economic growth."

ISO's standards provide practical tools for developing common understanding and cooperation between countries on aspects such as water quality and measurement, and the management of water supply services, including under crisis conditions.

ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele comments: "As with so many other global challenges, the ISO system has a proven track record of distilling international expertise into globally relevant standards that provide concrete help for achieving public policy goals and objectives, such as those of World Water Day."

The three ISO technical committees (ISO/TC) principally concerned are:
• ISO/TC 147, Water quality
• ISO/TC 224, Service activities relating to drinking water supply systems and wastewater systems - Quality criteria of the service and performance indicators
• ISO/TC 113, Hydrometry.

ISO/TC 147 develops standards for water quality, including definition of terms, water sampling, measurement and reporting of water characteristics. Since the creation of ISO/TC 147 in 1971, it has developed 244 standards. Today, 33 countries participate in its work, while another 36 have observer status.

ISO/TC 224 develops standards for the definition and measurement of service activities relating to drinking water supply systems and wastewater systems. Set up in 2001, ISO/TC 224 has developed three standards. Thirty-six countries participate in its work and another 16 are observers.

ISO/TC 113 develops standards for hydrometry -- water measurement -- which is very important for water management and conservation. This technical committee, which was established in 1964, has developed 73 standards. Fifteen countries participate in its work and 22 more are observers.

As well as the International Standards developed by these three committees, in 2008, ISO published the International Workshop Agreement, IWA 6:2008, Guidelines for the management of drinking water utilities under crisis conditions. With the security of drinking water a major concern worldwide, these guidelines are particularly opportune.

In addition, ISO develops other water-related standards including for irrigation (ISO/TC 23/SC 18 -- 31 standards) and plastics piping systems (ISO/TC 138/SC 2 -- 78 standards).

World Water Day 2009 is being coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). All three of these organizations have liaison status with ISO/TC 147.

The main theme of the January 2009 issue of ISO Focus magazine was "Water -- The vital challenge". It reported in detail on the work of ISO/TC 147, ISO/TC 224 and ISO/TC 113 and also included articles on IWA 6 and other aspects of ISO's water-related standardization work.

###