Environmental Monitoring Plan for Punjab

What is a sufficient amount of monitoring? That cannot be answered directly as there are no universally agreed standards or even recommendations for that for all types of monitoring. That is why administration needs capacities of environmental scientists for expert judgement and knowledge on the local circumstances on that matter. That would be best done within EMIN –process, facilitated by environmental scientists of the administration, in the presence of actual data producers and scientists who have theoretical background and practical experience on each type of monitoring and related environmental problems.

In this section, we are only giving a proxy set of suggestions for “monitoring intensity” and presenting background thinking to justify these suggestions.


Currently there are 6 air quality monitoring stations in Lahore. They are the only AQ monitoring station in the whole of Punjab. These stations have produced data only since November 2017 and the results are posted daily in EPA website. This is very useful approach and shows already the importance of these measurements as threshold limits are exceeded daily in most of the measurement stations.

Air quality information is crucial for citizen to prepare and protect themselves for episodes of high concentrations of air pollutants. EPD has drafted also an important paper on air quality – an action plan named: Standing instructions for management of episodes of poor air quality in the Punjab (2017), draft. The paper introduces Air Quality Index (AQI), which has threshold levels of 6 air pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, SO2, NO2, O3 and CO) to indicate with colours green, light green, yellow, orange, red and maroon respectively representing good, satisfactory, moderate, poor, very poor and extremely poor quality of ambient air. Index levels are then suggested to be used in measures to protect citizens through selected measure and to reduce emissions instantly.

Similar types of AQI’s have been used in many countries successfully for decades. For Punjab’s perspective, it is important to be able to show differences between days of extremely bad pollution levels, like during the episodes of burning Rice Stubbs in October and November. In a long run, as air quality gets better new threshold levels should be taken in use as there is no such thing as adaptation to bad air quality, stricter threshold would be needed to protect Punjab population and to raise awareness on importance of good air quality for health. These kinds of networks of monitoring stations would need to be established in all other big cities of Punjab, namely Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan and Sialkot and then expanded to intermediate and small size cities, which have industries.

Air quality should be continuously monitored in the influence areas of industries, traffic and even small-scale combustion in the future (areas were solid wastes are burned openly or areas were rice stubbles are burned in October-November time, as well as in the background areas.

Since it is not possible to monitor everywhere in the district, the concept of spatial scale is used in proposing physical location of an air monitor. When designing an air monitoring network, one of the following six objectives should be considered:

  • Highest concentrations expected to occur in the area covered by the network
  • Representative concentrations in areas of high population density
  • Impact of specific sources on ambient pollutant concentrations
  • General background concentration levels
  • Extent of regional transport of pollutants among populated areas and in support of secondary standards
  • Judge compliance with or progress made towards meeting the PEQS and to track pollution trends

Monitoring Site selection Criteria

Since it is not possible to monitor everywhere in the province, so the air monitoring stations are proposed for five large cities and 13 intermediate cities of Punjab. The initial selection of air monitoring sites/locations in the city was based on following factors/layers:

  • Population
  • Industrial Clusters
  • Built-up area
  • Roads

The exact location of a site is most often dependent on the logistics of the area chosen for monitoring, such as site access, security, and power availability.

Air Monitoring Plan.JPG


For general protection of ground waters the precautionary principle should be applied. It comprises a prohibition on direct discharges to groundwater, and (to cover indirect discharges) a requirement to monitor groundwater bodies so as to detect changes in chemical composition and to reverse any anthropologically induced upward pollution trend. Setting chemical standards may lead to think that it would be acceptable to pollute ground waters up to the threshold level. In any case nitrates, pesticides and biocides should be regulated with standards anyway. Monitoring of ground water quality would need to be done 2-4/year. Samples can be taken from tube wells or natural springs.

Quantity is also a major issue for groundwater. Briefly, the issue can be put as follows. There is only a certain amount of recharge into a groundwater each year, and of this recharge, some is needed to support connected ecosystems (whether they be surface water bodies, or terrestrial systems such as wetlands). For good management, only that portion of the overall recharge not needed by the ecology can be abstracted - this is the sustainable resource, and the Directive limits abstraction to that quantity. Monitoring of ground waters should be done 1-2/month depending on the importance of the ground water area and amounts of extraction.

Monitoring Site selection Criteria

Sampling points for groundwater monitoring are confined to places where there is access to an aquifer, and in most cases this means that samples will be obtained from existing wells. To describe such a sampling station adequately, it is essential to have certain information about the well, including depth, depth to the well screen, length of the screen and the amount by which the static water level is lowered when the well is pumped. Wells with broken or damaged casings should be avoided because surface water may leak into them and affect the water quality. Sampling points may include public water supply wells, domestic wells, or up gradient facility wells. The following criteria should be considered when selecting these types of monitoring points.

  • Select wells that are actively used.
  • Choose wells that are properly constructed (with no visible damage to the casing) with the casing anchored into bedrock, and properly capped.
  • Select wells that have a means to circumvent any pressure tank, water softener, or filtering system (or any type of treatment system).
  • Avoid monitoring points that may have contamination from obvious nearby point sources such as waste disposal sites, petroleum and mining activities, direct road salt or agricultural runoff.
  • Use wells that have detailed construction information. At a minimum, well data should include type of construction, size and length of casing, total depth, yield, water bearing zones and static water levels, when possible.

Ground Water Monitoring Locations

The location data of existing bores/wells are taken from irrigation department and these existing bore/wells are proposed for monitoring of ground water quality. A map of monitoring locations is shown in Fig. 2.

Ground Water Monitoring Plan.JPG


The best model for a single system of water management is management by river basin - the natural geographical and hydrological unit - instead of according to administrative or political boundaries. For each river basin district - some of which will traverse provisional or even national frontiers - a "river basin management plan" will need to be established and updated periodically, e.g. every five years.

The objectives for protection of surface waters should cover general protection of the aquatic ecology, specific protection of unique and valuable habitats, protection of drinking water resources, and protection of bathing water. All these objectives must be integrated for each river basin. It is clear that the last three - special habitats, drinking water areas and bathing water - apply only to specific bodies of water (those supporting special wetlands; those identified for drinking water abstraction; those generally used as bathing areas). In contrast, ecological protection should apply to all waters.

Ecological status refers to the quality of the biological community, the hydrological characteristics and the chemical characteristics. As no absolute standards for biological quality can be set which apply across the Community, because of ecological variability, the controls are specified as allowing only a slight departure from the biological community which would be expected in conditions of minimal anthropogenic impact (clean areas, background values) .

Good chemical status is defined in terms of compliance with all the quality standards established for chemical substances at Federal/Provincial level. There should also be a mechanism for renewing these standards and establishing new ones by means of a prioritization mechanism for hazardous chemicals. This will ensure at least a minimum chemical quality, particularly in relation to very toxic substances.

Nutrients, such as nitrates and phosphates, from farm fertilizers to household detergents can 'over fertilize' the water causing the growth of large mats of algae; some of which can be toxic. When the algae die, they sink to the bottom, decompose, consume oxygen and damage ecosystems. Pesticides and veterinary medicines from farmland and chemical contaminants, including heavy metals and some industrial chemicals, can threaten wildlife and human health. Some of these damage the hormonal systems of fish, causing feminization.

The monitoring of surface waters should serve objectives of river basin management. Monitoring of surface waters is based on long-term monitoring of ambient environment by government (EMC, Irrigation department and others) and self-monitoring of polluters (complemented with government check-ups and verification). The latter will be based on obligations given to industries and municipalities in permitting conditions. Industries in certain areas can be given an obligation to form “Water Protection Associations”, which do the monitoring on behalf of the industries. Water Protection Associations must have ISO 17025 certified laboratories and certified personnel for sample taking and field measurements. Industries will pay the costs of the monitoring to the associations as membership fees. As a general rule: Punjab EMC is responsible for monitoring of background values and general water quality of all waterways and checking through periodic sampling, based on statistical analysis, the discharges of waste waters and gradients outside industries and verifying results of private environmental firms and Water Protection Associations of polluters (industries and municipalities).

Industries, through their Water Protection Associations or separate private environmental monitoring firms, are responsible for monitoring of concentrations and loads of pollutants:

  1. In the end of discharge pipe (and parts of processes, if stipulated in permits)
  2. Several stations (5-10) outside the discharge pipe in a growing distance to the direction where the waters are running forming a gradient
SW Monitoring Plan.JPG

Monitoring of Rivers

Sampling stations on rivers should, as a general rule, be established at places where the water is sufficiently well mixed for only a single sample to be required. The lateral and vertical mixing of a wastewater effluent or a tributary stream with the main river can be rather slow, particularly if the flow in the river is laminar and the waters are at different temperatures. To verify that there is complete mixing at a sampling station it is necessary to take several samples at points across the width and depth of the river and to analyze them. If the results do not vary significantly one from the other, a station can be established at mid-stream or some other convenient point. If the results are significantly different it will be necessary to obtain a composite sample by combining samples taken at several points in the cross-section of the stream. Generally, the more points that are sampled, the more representative the composite sample will be. Sampling at three to five points is usually sufficient and fewer points are needed for narrow and shallow streams. A bridge is an excellent place at which to establish a sampling station (provided that it is located at a sampling site on the river). It is easily accessible and clearly identifiable, and the station can be precisely described. Usually, a sample taken from a bridge at mid-stream or in mid-channel, in a well-mixed river, will adequately represent all of the water in the river.

Criteria of River Monitoring Sites A sampling site is the general area of a water body from which samples are to be taken and is sometimes called a “macro-location”. The exact place at which the sample is taken is commonly referred to as a sampling station or, sometimes, a “micro-location”. A basic river network can comprise sampling sites at major tributaries at its confluence and major discharges of sewage or industrial effluent. The initially proposed macro locations are based on following sites:

  • Below major population centers and industrial clusters
  • Where major streams enter the state
  • Random location to cover river stretch/length
River Monitoring Plan.jpg


For drinking water we suggest a set of parameters to be measured in drinking water treatment plants to measure the end product quality (drinking water). We also present in the same annex quality recommendations/legal requirements for DW quality set in Finnish government decree (rules).[1] Organic substances (like POP’s) are not usually measured from drinking water as their solubility to water is so low and they accumulate to humans mainly through food chain. One exception is the perfluorinated substances as they are assumed to pose a risk to human health. Concentrations of perfluorinated substances are measured on raw water of water works. The key sources for perfluorinated substances are airports/air fields and training areas of fire brigades if they use such distinguishers, which contain these substances. In Sweden it has detected that 3,5 million people have been exposed to perfluorinated substances through drinking water.


Monitoring of hazardous substances is an important and difficult challenge to be encountered. Pakistan in general and Punjab within it is in high risk zone of contamination by various hazardous substances due to various reasons, like large cotton production (large scale pesticide usage), dumping of electronic waste from developed countries, rapid industrialization, dismantling of ships (in coastal areas), Hazardous substances can be divided in three groups, namely heavy metals, radioactive substances and organic pollutants. Concentrations of all of these substances need to be monitored in order to protect human beings and ecosystems


Monitoring of noise should be done in agglomerations of more than 100,000 which on account of their population density can be considered as urbanised areas. Obligation to monitor noise of public roads could be limited to those roads with more than three million vehicles passages a year; for railways with more than 30,000 trains passages a year; and for civil airports in which the combined total of take-offs and landings of aircraft, excluding the take-offs and landings of light aircraft for training purposes, numbers more than 50,000 a year. Based on noise measurements EMC would need to produce noise maps. The noise mapping must, using noise indicators, describe the existing and predicted noise situation in the area in overall terms, including the quiet areas and present the number of persons exposed to the noise and the number of dwellings in the area. Based on the noise mapping a noise abatement action plan must be drawn up. The purpose of the noise abatement action plan is to reduce the exposure of citizens to noise as noise have been found to increase stress levels, reduce concentration and affecting adversely to the quality of sleep. All this is related to cardiovascular diseases.


Biodiversity and Protected Areas – There are a lot of action points that needs to be considered such as an inventory of issues, promoting protected areas, national parks and community engagement. Currently, EPA does not have a role in monitoring of biodiversity (endangered species and habitats, migratory birds, forests, fish, etc.) and has very limited role in protecting and conserving sensitive areas of Punjab such as RAMSAR sites. Punjab EMC will play integral role to assess, monitor, report and possibly forecast the state of and the pressure on biodiversity and protected areas at multiple scales. It will also help in fulfilling the requirements of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). With a support from web-based system, EMC can develop indicators, maps and tools relevant to a number of end-users including policy makers, funding agencies, departments such as Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries Department, NGOs like WWF or academia/ researchers. The information can be useful for spatial planning, resource allocation, biodiversity conservation, protected area development and management, and national and international reporting.

File:Environmental Monitoring Plan for Punjab.pdf

Environmental Laboratories and Monitoring

  1. Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Relating to the Quality and Monitoring of Water Intended for Human Consumption 1352/2000