Python water quality EDA and Potability analysis

Understanding data analysis, visualization techniques

Photo by Amritanshu Sikdar on Unsplash

Being able to provide enough fresh drinking water is a core requirement. Within the climate change debate, one of the largest challenges is ensuring enough freshwater to survive. Water quality is a big concern that impacts all the specifies. Only about three percent of Earth’s water is freshwater. Of that, only 1.2 percent can be used as drinking water, with the remainder locked up in glaciers, ice caps, and permafrost, or buried deep in the ground. Using a data-driven approach to assess the features that impact the water quality could greatly improve our understanding of what makes water drinkable.

At its most basic level, the potability of water relates to water safety. Data techniques can be used to review this target feature. Other questions emerge that are outside of our current review:

Can we consume all types of freshwater?

What percentage of the world’s freshwater can be accessed?

Has the water table increased as sea levels have risen?

In this article, we will go on a journey with a small water quality dataset. From the data, we will seek to find hidden insights with data analysis techniques using pandas and numpy. For the data visualizations, the matplotlib and seaborn libraries will be used. A range of exploratory data analysis (EDA) techniques will be employed to provide further clarity for the data quality.

Each data visualization will aim to highlight different characteristics of the data. They will also provide the user with templates to apply to other challenges.


For this piece of analysis, the Water Quality dataset has been taken from Kaggle¹.

Water Quality

A jupyter notebook instance with Python code was used for processing.

import sys
print(sys.version) # displays the version of python installed

After running the script above an output would show that version 3.7.10 of Python was used. To be able to replicate the results that follow, users should ensure that Python 3 is used within the working environment.

Understanding the data

Firstly, we need to understand the data that we are working with. As the file format is a csv file, the standard pandas import statement using read_csv will be used.

# Import the dataset for review as a DataFrame
df = pd.read_csv(“../input/water-potability/water_potability.csv”)

# Review the first five observations

Having imported the data, the code assigns the variable df with the DataFrame output results from the pandas method.

As with any dataset that you will process, reviewing a sample of records will help you to gain comfort. A DataFrame has a large number of methods associated with it, with the pandas API a great resource to use. Within the API a head method can be used. Output 1.1 shows the first 5 rows of the DataFrame by default. In order to produce a larger number of rows to be displayed a numeric value would be required inside the parenthesis. Two alternatives could be applied to sample the DataFrame with i) sample (df.sample()) selecting random rows from the index, or ii) tail (df.tail()) selecting the last n rows from the index.

Output 1.1 First five record details from the DataFrame

When running any method, the parenthesis is included after the method name allowing the Python interpreter to produce the result.

Displaying the memory of a DataFrame can be a common task, particularly when memory constraints are involved. An example is where the dataset to import is potentially larger than the memory available within the Python session. By using the pandas library a DataFrame is created in-memory so users should understand what memory can be used when performing these processing steps.

# Display information about the DataFrame – contains memory details”deep”)

The code above can be used as a method to display output 1.2. With the inclusion of the keyword memory_usage, the Python interpreter is forced to do a deeper search to understand the memory usage that is displayed below. A default option would perform a general search to understand, so if accuracy in your assessment is required then ensure that the keyword phrase from above is applied.

Output 1.2 Provides an overview of the features and details of memory usage

From the results shown in output 1.2, it can show a range of details, from the column names and data types, to also confirming the class of the variable and number of non-null values. We can see that 3,276 rows are shown within the entire table. However, for the column Sulfate, there are only 2,495 non-null values present. Therefore, a number of missing values can be reviewed to understand if there is a pattern for these missing entries with other columns. We will review a data visualization technique later in the article that can help with pattern recognition.

Following the earlier import statement, users could have adjusted the Dtype of a column if the default options were not what was expected. The results above display that for decimal numbers the float Dtype is applied, with the whole number showing int. Also, the largest byte memory type for these numeric columns has been included in order to provide the full coverage of potential input values. Many times users should assess if these Dtypes are holding the correct range of values and if a smaller range is expected going forward then a smaller byte value could be assigned. Applying this logic would help to increase the memory efficiency of the DataFrame and aid with performance when processing.

One feature shown by the info method above that can be reviewed by a number of other methods is the structure of the DataFrame. Such metadata can allow programmers to review basic components of the number of rows and columns.

# Shape of the DataFrame – shows tuple of (#Rows, #Columns)
# Find the number of rows within a DataFrame
# Extracting information from the shape tuple
print(f’Number of rows: {df.shape[0]} nNumber of columns: {df.shape[1]}’)

When calling an attribute in Python such as shape, there will be no parenthesis required. An attribute is a data result that can be accessed by both a class and its object. Earlier we reviewed a method which is a function that is contained within a class. For further insights on the smaller details a deep dive into how Python class statements function would be required. However, we can continue with the code that is used and show that with output 1.3 a number of values have been displayed.

Output 1.3 Metadata showing the structure of the DataFrame

The first row shows the shape output which is a tuple, that is represented by a parenthesis with two values. From the code shown above we are able to access the relative positions within this tuple to display the first and second position values. As Python uses a 0 indexing convention, the first value will be returned by applying the 0 inside square brackets. We can see that the tuple contained the number of rows in the first position, followed by the number of columns in the second. An alternative method to find the number of rows would be to use the function len, which displays the length of the DataFrame.

Summary statistics

Within this section, we start to review the summary details of the DataFrame columns. A simple describe method is available to perform high-level data analysis of the numeric columns. As our DataFrame only contains numeric columns all of the summary properties are produced. When a mixture of character and numeric columns are present other keyword parameters have to be included to display relevant outputs.

# Review the high level summary details for each variable

Output 1.4 shows the default summary values for each column. The count values can be interpreted as the count of non-null values. With any total less than the total number of rows in the DataFrame showing columns with missing values. For each variable, we can see a range of values. We could use the four methods of moments to understand the i) Mean, ii) Variance, iii) Skewness, and iv) Kurtosis, based on the data displayed.

Output 1.4 Standard details displaying high-level metrics for each feature in the DataFrame

Having the external insight to understand feature properties is also crucial when reviewing summary details. We know from experience that a pH value should range between 0 and 14. If a value were to fall outside this range then the feature values would have to be reviewed and corrected. With the data being used to assess water quality having an average and median (displayed by the 50th percentile) close to 7 is appropriate for the neutral properties of water.

If there is a larger number of features in the DataFrame then output from the previous code block can be difficult to interpret. The output can be spread horizontally across a wider range than is possible to display without scrolling.

# Transpose the summary details – easier to review larger number of features

Being able to transpose the output is a useful method to apply. Within the code block above chaining the T method produced output 1.5 below. It is now much easier for the user to review column names displayed on the row index with the summary metrics displayed as column headings. This small adjustment to the describe method works really well with a larger number of columns.

Output 1.5 Summary details transposed to display feature names along the row index

To understand further details about the describe method we can interpret the docstring by using the jupyter notebook magic function of a question mark.

# Magic function in jupyter to display docstring

It will aid the user to review default parameter values (keyword and positional) for any method using this approach.

Output 1.6 Details displayed within the jupyter console about the docstring and method parameters

Output 1.6 provides the inner workings of the method for the user to review. The range of default values for each parameter, as well as the definitions, help to aid with the application of the method. A range of jupyter magic functions is available that can help to increase a programmer’s productivity.

Missing values

As discussed earlier from the metadata and summary statistics there are a number of missing values within the DataFrame. To confirm if this is correct we can apply the code block below.

# Check for the missing values by column

The code chained the first isnull method with the sum method to create the number of missing values per column. An isnull assessment will review for non-null values in a column. The sum method is used to perform the count. Output 1.7 highlights that three columns display missing values.

Output 1.7 Missing value count per column

Having the total count of rows with missing values is a great starting point. However, it would be better to review the proportion of missing values within a column.

# Proportion of missing values by column
def isnull_prop(df):
total_rows = df.shape[0]
missing_val_dict = {}
for col in df.columns:
missing_val_dict[col] = [df[col].isnull().sum(), (df[col].isnull().sum() / total_rows)]
return missing_val_dict

# Apply the missing value method
null_dict = isnull_prop(df)

Creating the isnull_prop user-defined function enables us to create a dictionary of values for each column. With this function, we have produced the count value from above, as well as using the shape attribute to understand the percentage of missing values.

Output 1.8 Applying the missing value percentage function to each column

Output 1.8 displayed an output that is tricky to visualize. To ensure that we do not miss the final message a DataFrame could be produced.

# Create a dataframe of the missing value information
df_missing = pd.DataFrame.from_dict(null_dict,
columns=[‘missing’, ‘miss_percent’])

Applying the dictionary variable to the pandas DataFrame method will make it easier to understand the differences for each column. Output 1.9 now includes the miss_percent column. We could now apply a threshold value to assess if the percentage of missing values is within our expected range to use the column. If the value is too high e.g., Sulfate value greater than 20%, a user-defined control could be in place that highlights this column needs to either be excluded from future use or reviewed in more detail.

Output 1.9 Creating the DataFrame to understand missing percentage per column

An alternative method to review if any patterns are present by missing values is to apply the heatmap method from the seaborn data visualization library.

# Display missing values using a heatmap to understand any patterns

Applying the code block above will produce output 1.10. Further context is provided within this visualization to see if a number of rows have a missing value for all three variables. It could be the case that the users populating data within the original dataset were consistently showing missing values. Having this insight would allow us to produce data-driven insights to target reviewing how to minimize the number of missing values more efficiently.

Output 1.10 Using seaborn data visualization to produce a missing value heatmap per row for each column

Understanding the pH variable distribution

One final assessment would be to perform a review of a variable that we have prior external knowledge about. With the seaborn library, we are able to produce a histogram of the pH variable.

# set the histogram, mean and median
sns.displot(df[“ph”], kde=False)
plt.axvline(, linewidth=3, color=’g’, label=”mean”, alpha=0.5)
plt.axvline(, linewidth=3, color=’y’, label=”median”, alpha=0.5)

# set title, legends and labels
plt.title(“Distribution of ph”, size=14)
plt.legend([“mean”, “median”]);

print(f’Mean pH value {}
n Median pH value {}
n Min pH value {}
n Max pH value {}’)

Similar to the print statement from earlier, the f string statement allows us to add the mean, median, min, and max values to make it easier to review the distribution.

Output 1.11 Reviewing the pH variable distribution with a histogram

Output 1.11 shows that the majority of pH values are close to the middle. With a distribution similar to a normal distribution, we could use this insight to help when presenting details to external users.


Throughout this article, we have aimed to review the early stages of an EDA assessment. Metadata on the imported data was initially reviewed to display early insights. A deeper dive into the summary statistics allowed us to focus on the missing values. Finally, we were able to review the histogram of the pH variable to ensure that the variable followed external expectations.

A follow-up article will continue the journey and seek to develop models that aim to predict water quality. Classification Machine Learning techniques will be used to provide baseline models.

Leave your comments and thanks very much for reading!

You can reach out to me on LinkedIn for a friendly chat about all things data. Other stories that I have shared:

Declaring Variables within SQLAdvanced SQL operationsDeveloping SQL tablesGetting started with NLP in Python

[1] : Kaggle dataset water quality from, with a license agreement of

Python water quality EDA and Potability analysis was originally published in Towards Data Science on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


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