WEF, Others Discuss Water Quality Criteria for Viruses at WEFTEC

November 18, 2014

WEF Resources & Efforts

Water sector leaders gathered at WEFTEC® 2014 in New Orleans to learn more about EPA’s development of water quality criteria for bacteriophages, which are viruses that infect and lyse bacteria. Representatives from the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.), Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF; Alexandria, Va.), and National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA; Washington, D.C.) met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives to discuss these developments.

Utilities discussed implementation issues related to such criteria and want to coordinate with EPA as it develops a method of detection and set criteria. WEF, WERF, NACWA, and utilities told EPA about how treatment requirements might change to implement such criteria. They also discussed the costs associated with a complete overhaul of treatment trains, particularly disinfection, at water resource recovery facilities.

WEF and WERF are considering conducting research that would help utilities better understand how viruses may be addressed.

The potential application of phage techniques in wastewater treatment systems to improve effluent and sludge emissions into the environment is being discussed within the sector. Phage-mediated bacterial mortality could influence treatment performance by controlling the abundance of key functional groups. Phage treatments have the potential to control environmental wastewater process problems, such as foaming in activated sludge plants, sludge dewaterability and digestibility, and pathogenic bacteria. They also have the ability to reduce competition between nuisance bacteria and functionally important microbial populations.

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