Characterization of Paper Mill Effluent Using Indicators and Source Tracking Methods (PDF)
- Author(s): Long, Sharon C.; Stietz, Jamie R.; Olstadt, Jeremy; Hedman, Curtis J.; Plummer, Jeanine D.
- Publications: Journal - American Water Works Association
- Issue Date: March 2012
- Volume / Number: 104, Number 3
- Page(s): E150-E161
- DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5942/jawwa.2012.104.0039
- Product Number: JAW_0075567
Non-Member Price: $0
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Monitoring of indicator organisms is conducted to assess
potential risk of pathogen exposure from freshwaters such as
recreational waters and drinking water sources. Total coliforms,
fecal coliforms, E. coli and enterococci are the most
commonly measured indicator organisms. Their presence can
indicate the potential presence of fecally transmitted pathogens.
In Wisconsin, E. coli are used for determining potential human
health risk in recreational waters. However, it has been shown
that E. coli can survive and reproduce in a variety of aquatic
environments, including in the activated sludge process of paper
mills. Previous monitoring in a river in Wisconsin receiving paper
mill effluent indicated that the mill was contributing to elevated
E. coli levels that could affect the number of closings at a public
beach located downstream from the mill. The goal of this study
was to understand the public health implications of the E. coli at
the beach. Samples were collected upstream and downstream of
the paper mill's wastewater treatment plant discharge as well as
within the mill processes. Samples were analyzed for indicator
organisms (coliforms, E. coli, and enterococci) and microbial
source tracking (MST) targets. Although indicator concentrations
were typically below detection limits in the mill process water,
indicators regrew in the activated sludge wastewater treatment
process such that fecal coliforms and E. coli were detected in all
wastewater treatment plant effluent samples. Although the paper
mill effluent periodically appears to affect the E. coli levels at the
downstream beach, MST results demonstrate that E. coli from
the mill is not of human fecal origin, and therefore not likely a
cause for health concerns.
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