A review of the factors affecting sunlight inactivation of micro-organisms in waste stabilisation ponds: preliminary results for enterococci

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Waste stabilisation ponds (WSP) are efficient, cost-effective methods of treating wastewater in rural and remote communities in Australia. It is recognised that sunlight plays a significant role in their disinfection, however, due to the poor penetration of light in turbid waters it has been hypothesised that other mechanisms may also contribute to disinfection in WSPs. To date, studies have reported various and conflicting results with regards to the relative contributions of UVA, UVB, PAR and environmental factors including pH, DO and photo-sensitisers on micro-organism disinfection. Initially we investigated the role of these environmental factors on the solar disinfection of enterococci in buffered distilled water to control for potential confounding factors within the wastewater. Die-off rate constants were measured, in sterile buffered distilled water at varying pH and dissolved oxygen concentrations, for enterococci irradiated with UVA and UVB. Enterococci were found to be predominantly inactivated by UVB (p<0.001), however, UVA was also observed to increase inactivation rates relative to the dark control (p<0.001). DO and pH were found to have no effect on inactivation rate when enterococci were irradiated with UVB (p<0.05), however, when irradiated with UVA, both DO and pH were observed to further increase inactivation rates (p<0.01).

Keywords: dissolved oxygen, pathogen removal, pH, ultraviolet light, waste stabilisation ponds

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