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Water Res. 2010 Mar;44(6):1841-52. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2009.12.008. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Valuing the subsurface pathogen treatment barrier in water recycling via aquifers for drinking supplies.

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CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country, Private Bag No. 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.


A quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) was performed at four managed aquifer recharge (MAR) sites (Australia, South Africa, Belgium, Mexico) where reclaimed wastewater and stormwater is recycled via aquifers for drinking water supplies, using the same risk-based approach that is used for public water supplies. For each of the sites, the aquifer treatment barrier was assessed for its log(10) removal capacity much like for other water treatment technologies. This information was then integrated into a broader risk assessment to determine the human health burden from the four MAR sites. For the Australian and South African cases, managing the aquifer treatment barrier was found to be critical for the schemes to have low risk. For the Belgian case study, the large treatment trains both in terms of pre- and post-aquifer recharge ensures that the risk is always low. In the Mexico case study, the risk was high due to the lack of pre-treatment and the low residence times of the recharge water in the aquifer. A further sensitivity analysis demonstrated that human health risk can be managed if aquifers are integrated into a treatment train to attenuate pathogens. However, reduction in human health disease burden (as measured in disability adjusted life years, DALYs) varied depending upon the number of pathogens in the recharge source water. The beta-Poisson dose response curve used for translating rotavirus and Cryptosporidium numbers into DALYs coupled with their slow environmental decay rates means poor quality injectant leads to aquifers having reduced value to reduce DALYs. For these systems, like the Mexican case study, longer residence times are required to meet their DALYs guideline for drinking water. Nevertheless the results showed that the risks from pathogens can still be reduced and recharging via an aquifer is safer than discharging directly into surface water bodies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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