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Smart Monitoring for microbial risk assessment

Project Number # 1103

Smart Monitoring for microbial risk assessment

Project Leader:  Paul Monis

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The requirement to manage microbial risk is well established and incorporated in the ADWG. The recently released Health-Based Targets manual, which has a particular focus on Cryptosporidium, prescribes the use of a sanitary survey and microbial indicators as part of the mandatory Tier 1 assessment of source water. An optional Tier 2 assessment using actual Cryptosporidium monitoring data can also be used, which may be required if microbial indicators (E. coli) are inconsistent with source vulnerability assessments (Sanitary Survey). However, monitoring for Cryptosporidium is expensive and results often show ‘nil detects’ which may not be a true assessment of the risk. At the Crypto risk in Catchments workshop, hosted by WaterRA and NSW Dept of Health held in November 2015, participants identified the need to improve monitoring techniques. There have been recent developments in molecular techniques that offer alternative approaches to better characterise the risk and improve the efficiency of monitoring. Moreover, this is an opportunity to standardise the monitoring methods, including sampling regimes, to provide more consistent data that can be used for future research and analysis i.e. enabling comparison between catchments and utility data sets.