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Estimating the safety of wastewater reclamation and reuse using enteric virus monitoring data

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The reliability of wastewater reclamation and reuse to meet a given annual risk of infection, considering the variability of enteric virus concentrations, has been investigated. Two concepts related to the reliability and safety of wastewater reclamation and reuse are presented. The first is reliability, defined as the probability that the risk of infection from enteric viruses in reclaimed wastewater does not exceed an acceptable risk. The second is based on the expectation of the acceptable annual risk in which the exposure to enteric viruses may be estimated stochastically by numerical simulation.

To assess the potential risks associated with the use of reclaimed wastewater in various reuse applications, four exposure scenarios were tested: golf course irrigation, food crop irrigation, recreational impoundments, and groundwater recharge. Past monitoring data on enteric virus concentrations in unchlorinated secondary effluents in California were used. Because enteric virus concentrations in unchlorinated secondary effluents were found to vary over a wide range, characterizing their variability was found to be extremely important. The reliability criterion of meeting the less than 10−4 annual risk of infection (less than or equal to one infection per 10 000 population per year) at least 95% of the time was used to assess the safety of using reclaimed wastewater in the four different exposure scenarios. The methodologies used in this study should be refined, based on a larger enteric virus database developed using standardized field and laboratory protocols.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 1998

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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