Home\Educate\Water Reuse 101\Research Projects\Year\2014\Real-Time Monitoring Tools to Characterize Microbal Contaminants in Reclaimed Water: State-of-the-Science Assessment

Real-Time Monitoring Tools to Characterize Microbal Contaminants in Reclaimed Water: State-of-the-Science Assessment

Project: 11-06
Type: Decision Making Tool
Year Released: 2014

Program: Principal
Funding Partner: NA
Total Investment: $37,105.32 (Cash: $22,105.32, In-Kind: $10,000)

Principal Investigator: Sharon Waller, Ph.D., P.E., Sustainable Systems LLC−Consulting


Although current regulation of reclaimed water focuses largely on monitoring treatment surrogate indicators including total and fecal coliforms and E. coli, limitations of these indicators are well recognized.

Goals and Objectives

The project is a state-of-the-science assessment of real-time and near real-time analytical detection methods for monitoring pathogenic microorganisms and treatment efficiency surrogates (such as coliforms) in reclaimed water.

Research Approach

Objectives established toward this aim are to (1) describe and compare real-time and near-real-time detection methods found in literature, patents, government agency reports, and identified through interviews with experts and practitioners, and (2) deliver the results in an easy-to-use format such as an electronic catalog, database, or other format. To meet this second objective, a wiki has been created as a companion to this report to aid information dissemination and encourage collaboration. The target audience of this report is WateReuse Research Foundation (WRRF) subscribers, laboratory managers that use molecular methods in reclaimed water, and researchers involved in microbial detection method development.

Findings and Conclusions

Analysis of gaps between microorganisms anticipated for future monitoring and available methods has identified the following microorganisms for further development of real-time detection methods:

  • Bacteria: Aeromonas, Bacillus anthracis, Bacteroidales, Bacteroides (genus of order Bacteroidales), Clostridium perfringens, total and fecal coliforms,
  • Enterococci, E.coli, Francisella tularensis, Legionella, Microsporidia, Mycobacterium, Salmonella, and Streptococci
  • Viruses: adenovirus, enteric viruses, norovirus, and bacteriophages
  • Protozoa: Giardia and Cryptosporidium
  • Other: algaltoxins (i.e., cyanobacteria, algae) and fungi

Future method development can be outlined following a multipart process of (1) planning how to set priorities for monitoring, (2) identifying what to monitor, (3) gap analysis, (4) identifying trends, (5) planning how to validate new methods for reclaimed water, and (6) deploying methods to reclaimed water labs.

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