The evaluation of colour in natural waters

Louise E. Bennett, Mary Drikas

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A model describing the objective evaluation of colour from the transmission properties of natural waters was developed and applied to a wide range of Australian waters. These calculated colours show that measurement of filtered water absorbance at 456 nm calibrated against Pt-Co colour standards agrees with the visually perceived colour intensity by comparator methods and the Pt-Co or Hazen scale of measurement within a maximum error range of ±20%. The error is significantly larger when analytical wavelengths below 440 nm are used. The interference to colour measurement caused by scattering of suspended matter was accounted for at the analytical wavelength. The light scatter component was found to be significant when the ratio of turbidity (in nephelometric turbidity units) to colour (in Hazen units) is greater than 0.02. The use of the 456 nm wavelength is proposed for the standardization of colour measurement in natural waters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1209-1218
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • apparent colour
  • Hazen units
  • natural water colour
  • true colour
  • turbidity

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