Journal of Water and Health

Removal and relationships of microbial indicators in a water treatment and reclamation facility

Laura Alcalde, Montserrat Folch, Josefina C. Tapias


A wastewater treatment and reclamation facility in north-east Spain was monitored over 1 year to determine the occurrence and concentrations of different microbial indicators (Escherichia coli, fecal enterococci, somatic bacteriophages and spores of sulfite-reducing clostridia). The removal of the indicators and its relationships through the wastewater treatment and reclamation trains were evaluated. The results obtained show that the reclamation treatments evaluated present a different efficiency in indicator microorganisms' removal depending on the type of microorganism. The E. coli and enterococci present an average reduction slightly higher than the other indicators, followed by somatic bacteriophages and spores of sulfite-reducing clostridia. The Spearman's correlations indicate that it is not suitable to use any of the bacterial indicators evaluated to predict the content of virus or spores of sulfite-reducing clostridia. Therefore, in order to evaluate the microbiological risk of the reclaimed effluent use, it is necessary to monitor the three types of indicator microorganisms (bacteria, virus and protozoa).

  • microbial indicators
  • reclamation
  • reuse
  • treatment technology
  • wastewater
  • Received November 22, 2011.
  • Accepted August 14, 2012.