Ensuring the safety of our drinking water is a critical aspect of public health, with disinfection playing a pivotal role in safeguarding against microbial contaminants. However, despite effective disinfection protocols, certain pathogens, such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia, present unique challenges due to their resilience to standard disinfection methods.

Water Research Australia’s latest project, available now to download, delved into the potential risks posed by these pathogens in treated water storage tanks, particularly in scenarios where dead animals, including bats, birds, cats, dogs, frogs, reptiles, marsupials, rabbits, and rodents, are found.

Understanding the prevalence and diversity of zoonotic Cryptosporidium and Giardia species in various animal hosts is also crucial for assessing the associated human health risks.

The research, conducted by Professor Una Ryan at Murdoch University, also highlighted the importance of maintaining adequate residual chlorine concentrations in water distribution systems to prevent recontamination and the persistent challenges posed by Cryptosporidium and Giardia, especially in storage tanks where disinfection efficacy can be compromised.

What sets this research apart is its focus on actionable insights and re-examination of risks. By identifying gaps in current knowledge and emphasising the importance of ongoing research, it offers a roadmap for enhancing water safety protocols and prompts reflection on the broader implications of animal reservoirs and transmission pathways, shaping future strategies for mitigating risks to public health.

WaterRA members have exclusive access to a wealth of materials, including a comprehensive Final Report and eight informative factsheets. These resources not only provide an overview of the research findings but also offer practical recommendations for industry professionals and policymakers.

From understanding the nuances of zoonotic Cryptosporidium and Giardia to assessing the significance of different animal hosts, this research offers valuable insights to inform decision-making and drive continuous improvement in water safety practices.