1670 Beyster Building
Understanding the Effects of Abiotic and Biotic Parameters on the Health of Water Treatment Systems and the People They Serve
The water industry faces a huge challenge in supplying a sustainable, energy efficient and safe supply of drinking water (DW) to an increasing world population. This increase in demand has led to the reuse of water sources of varying quality, including treated wastewater. As a result, DW treatment plants need to remove emerging contaminants such as endocrine-disrupters (EDCs), which have been shown to affect human health, and environmental waterways. Although utilities improve or adapt their existing technologies to deal with these contaminants, little research has been done to understand the impact of these contaminants on the performance of the DW treatment plant and how water quality at the consumer’s tap is affected. Using two examples, I will demonstrate that it is important to understand the effects of different abiotic and biotic parameters throughout the DW treatment process. The first will highlight the impact of EDCs on the performance of municipally operated slow sand filters, and the second will demonstrate how physical and chemical parameters influence the abundances of opportunistic pathogens in water in our homes. Further, I will show that this improved understanding will allow us to design and operate more sustainable DW treatment systems and develop mitigation strategies to help minimize the risk to public health.