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Environ Int. 2004 Jul;30(5):741-59.

Fate and transport of pathogens in lakes and reservoirs.

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Cooperative Research Centre for Water Quality and Treatment, PMB 3 Salisbury, South Australia 5108, Australia.


Outbreaks of water-borne disease via public water supplies continue to be reported in developed countries even though there is increased awareness of, and treatment for, pathogen contamination. Pathogen episodes in lakes and reservoirs are often associated with rain events, and the riverine inflow is considered to be major source of pathogens. Consequently, the behaviour of these inflows is of particular importance in determining pathogen transport and distribution. Inflows are controlled by their density relative to that of the lake, such that warm inflows will flow over the surface of the lake as a buoyant surface flow and cold, dense inflows will sink beneath the lake water where they will flow along the bathymetry towards the deepest point. The fate of pathogens is determined by loss processes including settling and inactivation by temperature, UV and grazing. The general trend is for the insertion timescale to be shortest, followed by sedimentation losses and temperature inactivity. The fate of Cryptosporidium due to UV light inactivation can occur at opposite ends of the scale, depending on the location of the oocysts in the water column and the extinction coefficient for UV light. For this reason, the extinction coefficient for UV light appears to be a vitally important parameter for determining the risk of Cryptosporidium contamination. For risk assessment of pathogens in supply reservoirs, it is important to understand the role of hydrodynamics in determining the timescale of transport to the off-take relative to the timescale of inactivation. The characteristics of the riverine intrusion must also be considered when designing a sampling program for pathogens. A risk management framework is presented that accounts for pathogen fate and transport for reservoirs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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