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 May 2007
From the Editor's Desk

A Small Word with Huge Meaning in Our Lives

Fifteen years ago, when SN spotlighted the 60th anniversary of Committee D19 on Water, the cover of that issue featured a portion of a painting by Jeffrey Alan Lichtenberg that showed water in all its forms — its natural cycle “from clouds to rain and snow, to rivers, and finally, the sea.”

This work, commissioned by Committee D19 on the occasion of that 1992 anniversary, reflected the impressive scope of the committee, which includes this definition of the simple word water: “surface waters (rivers, lakes, artificial impoundments, runoff, etc.), groundwaters and springwaters, wastewaters (mine drainage, landfill leachate, brines, waters resulting from atmospheric precipitation and condensation (with the exception of acid deposition), process waters, potable waters, glacial melt waters, steam, water for subsurface injection and water discharges including waterborne materials and water-formed deposits.”

Today, Committee D19 on Water develops and maintains an enormous number of standard tests for a variety of water uses, and more standard protocols for the conduct of the tests themselves. They have a vital and active interaction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and serve as the U.S. technical advisory group to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) technical committee on water quality.

With 14 subcommittees, over 200 members and more than 300 standards, ASTM International Committee D19 is celebrating its 75th anniversary at its next meeting in late June. In this issue you’ll find detailed overviews of their work in analyzing organic compounds, creating measurement uncertainty protocols, round-robin studies for turbidity measurements, sampling, and measuring radioactivity. You’ll discover a historical committee with a long memory of ASTM’s pre-Internet, two-meetings-per-year days that has embraced electronic standards development aids, thereby enabling the participation of greater numbers of non-U.S. participants. And as with so many committee overviews of this type in SN, you may find the example set by the featured committee to be helpful as you explore the potential of your own.

Water may be a small word, and you may think it is a simple thing. But it is our greatest natural resource, the building block and perpetuator of life, and must be conserved and kept clean at all costs. Thankfully, Committee D19 is thinking about water quality so the rest of us don’t have to.

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief