Microbial pollution in water sources under extreme weather conditions: modelling sediment-pathogen interactions

The transmission of water borne diseases under extreme weather events is a crucial issue with regard to public health in the UK and worldwide. Microbial pollution of water resources in response to these events occurs through different mechanisms including transport from land run-off, discharges from water treatment plants and combined sewage overflows (Drummond et al., 2015). The impact on public health of extreme weather events is significant in the UK particularly in areas of high flood risk but is proportionally more crucial in developing countries (Pacheco Avila and Cabrera Sansores, 2013). Although microbial pollution and extreme weather events have been linked to the majority of drinking water-related outbreaks worldwide (Cann et al., 2013), microbial pollution is not considered when control and management strategies are designed.

Sediments can be reservoirs of pathogens and represent a potential health hazard from possible resuspension, transport and infiltration. However, there is a lack of reliable methods allowing the monitoring of dynamic exchanges of pathogens in the soil-water interface. Groundwater resources are vital for many regions of the world such as Latin American countries; however, microbial contamination of aquifers is a persistent risk in these countries where poor sanitation infrastructure and heavy rainfalls are common. It is necessary to identify the mechanisms responsible for pathogen dynamics to efficiently manage the risk of waterborne diseases outbreaks. The development of effective monitoring programs can then be translated into action guidelines that will inform management strategies to modify or adapt processes by designing new barriers or treatments.

 

Project Lead: Dr Isabel Douterelo (EPSRC Research Fellow) University of Sheffield

Prof Colin Brown (York, Professor)

Dr Christian Berretta (Leeds, Academic Research Fellow)

Other staff involved with the project

Dr James Shucksmith (Sheffield, Senior Lecturer)

Dr Domenico Bau (Sheffield, Senior Lecturer)

Dr Miller Alonso Camargo-Valero (Leeds, Lecturer)

Dr Mark Trigg (Leeds, University Academic Fellow)

Dr Thorunn Helgason (York, Senior Lecturer)

Dr Julia Touza-Montero (York, Senior Lecturer)