Distributions of waterborne pathogens in raw wastewater based on a 14-month, multi-site monitoring campaign

Brian M. Pecson, Emily Darby, Richard Danielson, Yeggie Dearborn, George Di Giovanni, Walter Jakubowski, Menu Leddy, George Lukasik, Bonnie Mull, Kara L. Nelson, Adam Olivieri, Channah Rock, Theresa Slifko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The California State Water Resources Control Board is the first regulatory body in the United States to develop statewide regulations for direct potable reuse (DPR). To support this effort, a pathogen monitoring campaign was undertaken to develop and implement an optimized standard operating protocol to better characterize the concentration of human pathogens in raw wastewater. Methods to detect relevant viral and protozoan pathogens in raw wastewater were optimized and implemented during a 14-month monitoring campaign. Over 120 samples were collected from five wastewater treatment plants treating a quarter of California's population. Samples were analyzed for two protozoa (Cryptosporidium and Giardia) using microscopy methods, three enteric viruses (enterovirus, adenovirus, and norovirus) using culture and/or molecular methods, and male-specific coliphage using culture methods. The method recovery efficiency was measured in every protozoa sample and every other virus sample to confirm minimum recovery efficiencies were achieved and to correct the concentrations for pathogen losses during sample processing. The results from this study provide the industry with a large, high-quality dataset as demonstrated by the high degree of method sensitivity, method recovery, and QA/QC steps. Such high-quality data on pathogen concentrations in raw wastewater are critical for confirming the level of treatment needed to reduce pathogen concentrations down to acceptable levels for potable water in DPR projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118170
JournalWater research
StatePublished - Apr 15 2022


  • Cryptosporidium
  • Enterovirus
  • Pathogen concentrations
  • Potable reuse
  • Wastewater monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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