Cryptosporidium Attenuation across the wastewater treatment train: Recycled water fit for purpose

Brendon King, S Fanok, Renae Phillips, Melody Lau, Ben Van Den Akker, Paul Monis

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    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Compliance with guideline removal targets for Cryptosporidium which do not provide any credit for the inactivation of oocysts through wastewater treatment processes can considerably increase the cost of providing recycled water. Here we present the application of an integrated assay to quantify both oocyst numbers and infectivity levels after various treatment stages at three Victorian and two South Australian (SA) wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Oocyst density in the raw sewage was commensurate with community disease burden, with early rounds of sampling capturing a widespread cryptosporidiosis outbreak in Victoria. The level of infectivity of oocysts in sewage was stable throughout the year but was significantly lower at the SA WWTPs. Removals across secondary treatment processes were seasonal, with poorer removals associated with inflow variability; however, no decrease in the oocyst infectivity was identified. For SA WWTPs, those oocysts remaining within the secondary treatment-clarified effluent were proportionally more infectious than those in raw sewage. Lagoon systems demonstrated significant inactivation or removal of oocysts, with attenuation being seasonal. Examination of a UV system emphasized its efficacy as a disinfectant barrier but conversely confirmed the importance of a multibarrier approach with the detection of infectious oocysts postdisinfection. The ability to characterize risk from infectious oocysts revealed that the risk from Cryptosporidium is significantly lower than previously thought and that its inclusion in quantitative risk assessments of reuse systems will more accurately direct the selection of treatment strategies and capital expenditure, influencing the sustainability of such schemes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere03068-16
    Pages (from-to)Art: e03068-16
    Number of pages18
    JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Cryptosporidiosis
    • Cryptosporidium
    • Oocyst infectivity
    • Reuse water
    • Wastewater treatment


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