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Quantifying the effects of climate change on the fate and transport of microbial pollutants

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Paper number  131619717,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.13031/aim.20131619717) @2013
Authors:   Rory Coffey, Brian Benham, Leigh Anne Krometis, Mary Leigh Wolfe, Enda Cummins
Keywords:   waterborne microorganisms climate change modeling water policy.

Abstract. Despite advances in water treatment, outbreaks of waterborne diseases still occur in developed regions including the United States (US) and Europe Union (EU). Water quality impairments attributable to elevated concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria, and associated with health risk, are also very common. Research suggests that the impact of such microorganisms on public health may be intensified by the effects of climate change. Changes in land use, increases in populations and evolution of agricultural production systems may further aggravate issues on the microbial quality of water in future years. At present, the major regulatory frameworks in these regions, i.e., the US Clean Water Act (CWA) and the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), do not explicitly address risks posed by climate change. This paper reviews existing US and EU water quality regulatory legislation for robustness to climate change and suggests watershed modeling approaches to inform additional pollution control measures given the likely impacts on microbial fate and transport. Comprehensive analysis of future climate and water quality scenarios may only be achievable through the use of watershed-scale models. Unless adaptation measures are generated and incorporated into water policy, the potential threat posed to humans from exposure to waterborne pathogens may be amplified. Such adaptation measures will assist in achieving the aims of the EU WFD and US CWA and minimize impacts of climate change on microbial water quality.

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