Estimation of pathogen concentrations in a drinking water source using hydrodynamic modelling and microbial source tracking

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The faecal contamination of drinking water sources can lead to waterborne disease outbreaks. To estimate a potential risk for waterborne infections caused by faecal contamination of drinking water sources, knowledge of the pathogen concentrations in raw water is required. We suggest a novel approach to estimate pathogen concentrations in a drinking water source by using microbial source tracking data and fate and transport modelling. First, the pathogen (norovirus, Cryptosporidium, Escherichia coli O157/H7) concentrations in faecal contamination sources around the drinking water source Lake Rådasjön in Sweden were estimated for endemic and epidemic conditions using measured concentrations of faecal indicators (E. coli and Bacteroidales genetic markers). Afterwards, the fate and transport of pathogens within the lake were simulated using a three-dimensional coupled hydrodynamic and microbiological model. This approach provided information on the contribution from different contamination sources to the pathogen concentrations at the water intake of a drinking water treatment plant. This approach addresses the limitations of monitoring and provides data for quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) and risk management in the context of faecal contamination of surface drinking water sources.

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