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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Environmental Microbiology

QMRAcatch: Human-Associated Fecal Pollution and Infection Risk Modeling for a River/Floodplain Environment


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 45 No. 4, p. 1205-1214
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: Nov 11, 2015
    Accepted: Mar 21, 2016
    Published: July 7, 2016

    * Corresponding author(s): blaschke@hydro.tuwien.ac.at
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  1. Julia Derxabc,
  2. Jack Schijvende,
  3. Regina Sommerbf,
  4. Christa M. Zoufal-Hruzag,
  5. Inge H. van Driezumabc,
  6. Georg Reischerbh,
  7. Simone Ixenmaierbh,
  8. Alexander Kirschnerbf,
  9. Christina Frickg,
  10. Ana Maria de Roda Husmandi,
  11. Andreas H. Farnleitnerbh and
  12. Alfred Paul Blaschke *abc
  1. a TU Wien, Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, E222/2, Karlsplatz 13, A-1040 Vienna, Austria
    b Interuniversity Cooperation Centre for Water and Health (ICC Water & Health)
    c TU Wien, Centre for Water Resource Systems, E222/2, Karlsplatz, 13 A-1040 Vienna, Austria
    d National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Expert Centre for Methodology and Information Services, PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
    e Utrecht Univ., Faculty of Geosciences, Dep. of Hydrogeology, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    f Medical Univ. of Vienna, Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology of the Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology, Kinderspitalgasse 15, 1090 Vienna, Austria
    g Vienna Municipal Dep. 39, Laboratories of Environmental Medicine, Feldgasse 9, A-1080 Vienna, Austria
    h TU Wien, Institute of Chemical Engineering, Research Group Environmental Microbiology and Molecular Ecology, Gumpendorferstraße 1a, 1060 Vienna, Austria
    i Utrecht Univ., Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Core Ideas:
  • QMRAcatch is a fecal pollution and infection risk model for water resources.
  • QMRAcatch was successfully applied to a river/floodplain environment.
  • Successful calibration was shown using human-associated HF183 MST marker data.
  • Sustainable viral reduction targets to achieve safe drinking water quality were estimated.
  • Results show a high potential for targeting human emissions in the catchment.


Protection of drinking water resources requires addressing all relevant fecal pollution sources in the considered catchment. A freely available simulation tool, QMRAcatch, was recently developed to simulate concentrations of fecal indicators, a genetic microbial source tracking (MST) marker, and intestinal pathogens in water resources and to conduct a quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA). At the same time, QMRAcatch was successfully applied to a region of the Danube River in Austria, focusing on municipal wastewater emissions. Herein, we describe extension of its application to a Danube River floodplain, keeping the focus on fecal sources of human origin. QMRAcatch was calibrated to match measured human-associated MST marker concentrations for a dry year and a wet year. Appropriate performance characteristics of the human-associated MST assay were proven by simulating correct and false-positive marker concentrations, as determined in human and animal feces. With the calibrated tool, simulated and measured enterovirus concentrations in the rivers were compared. Finally, the calibrated tool allowed demonstrating that 4.5 log10 enterovirus and 6.6 log10 norovirus reductions must be achieved to convert current surface water to safe drinking water that complies with a health-based target of 10−4 infections person−1 yr−1. Simulations of the low- and high-pollution scenarios showed that the required viral reductions ranged from 0 to 8 log10. This study has implications for water managers with interests in assessing robust catchment protection measures and water treatment criteria by considering the fate of fecal pollution from its sources to the point of abstraction.

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