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Impact of rainfall on microbial contamination of surface water

Ingun Tryland (Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Oslo, Norway)
Lucy Robertson (Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo, Norway)
Anne‐Grete B. Blankenberg (Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research (Bioforsk), Ås, Norway)
Markus Lindholm (Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Oslo, Norway)
Thomas Rohrlack (Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Oslo, Norway)
Helge Liltved (Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Oslo, Norway)

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management

ISSN: 1756-8692

Article publication date: 8 November 2011

Abstract

Purpose

Increased annual precipitation and more frequent episodes with heavy precipitation are expected in Norway due to climate change. The purpose of this paper is to use two case studies to investigate effects of precipitation on the amounts of faecal indicator bacteria and parasitic protozoa (Cryptosporidium and Giardia) loaded to surface waters from catchment areas exposed to different faecal sources.

Design/methodology/approach

In the first case study, the loads of faecal indicator bacteria and Cryptosporidium and Giardia, were investigated in relation to precipitation in a stream from a small valley where cattle and sheep are grazed. In the second case study, historical data (monthly values from 2004‐2009) regarding faecal coliforms and water flow in five tributaries (urban and rural) of a lake used as a drinking water source, were used for calculating loads of faecal indicator bacteria. These loads were evaluated in relation to historical data on precipitation. Additional sampling during/after rainfall, including analysis of samples for Cryptosporidium and Giardia, was performed.

Findings

The study visualises how heavy rainfall may increase the load of faecal microorganisms and potential pathogens in Norwegian water sources.

Originality/value

This study provides supplementary information about microbial contamination (including by parasites) of Norwegian surface waters during or after rainfall. This is useful input for decision making regarding protection of vulnerable water sources and for risk assessments. Data are also provided for evaluation of water treatment needs for Norwegian municipalities and waterworks responsible for providing safe drinking water under future climatic conditions.

Keywords

Citation

Tryland, I., Robertson, L., Blankenberg, A.B., Lindholm, M., Rohrlack, T. and Liltved, H. (2011), "Impact of rainfall on microbial contamination of surface water", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 361-373. https://doi.org/10.1108/17568691111175650

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited