“Water quality” is a term used here to express the suitability of water to sustain various uses or processes. Any particular use will have certain requirements for the physical, chemical or biological characteristics of water; for example limits on the concentrations of toxic substances for drinking water use, or restrictions on temperature and pH ranges for water supporting invertebrate communities. Consequently, water quality can be defined by a range of variables which limit water use. Although many uses have some common requirements for certain variables, each use will have its own demands and influences on water quality. Quantity and quality demands of different users will not always be compatible, and the activities of one user may restrict the activities of another, either by demanding water of a quality outside the range required by the other user or by lowering quality during use of the water. Efforts to improve or maintain a certain water quality often compromise between the quality and quantity demands of different users. There is increasing recognition that natural ecosystems have a legitimate place in the consideration of options for water quality management. This is both for their intrinsic value and because they are sensitive indicators of changes or deterioration in overall water quality, providing a useful addition to physical, chemical and other information.