A brief survey of contemporary problems and future prospects for the development and application of water quality models is given. The main body of the paper is prefaced by a discussion of the way in which developments in modelling have tended to cluster around four types of pollution problem, easily degradable organic wastes, eutrophication, nitrates, and the discharge of toxic substances. The increased importance of uncertainty in the development of models (system identification; model calibration), in the use of models for prediction, and in strategies for the management of water quality is noted. Special attention is also drawn to the need for the analysis of interactions among the four categories of pollution problems, among the traditionally separate components of wastewater treatment, the receiving water body, and water purification, and between long-term planning and short-term operational management. Aspects of planning and operations in the face of contingencies and continually changing priorities for river basin management are discussed.

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