Bacterial indicator organisms are used globally to assess the microbiological safety of waters. However, waterborne viral outbreaks have occurred in drinking water systems despite negative bacterial results. Using viral markers may therefore provide more accurate health risk assessment data. In this study, fecal, wastewater, stormwater, surface water (fresh and salt), groundwater, and drinking water samples were analyzed for the presence or concentration of traditional indicators, innovative indicators and viral markers. Samples were obtained in the United States, Italy, and Australia and results compared to those reported for studies conducted in Asia and South America as well. Indicators included total coliforms, Escherichia coli, enterococci, male-specific coliphages, somatic coliphages and microviradae. Viral markers included adenovirus, polyomavirus, and a potential new surrogate, Torque teno virus (TTV). TTV was more frequently found in wastewaters (38–100%) and waters influenced by waste discharges (25%) than in surface waters used as drinking water sources (5%). TTV was also specific to human rather than animal feces. While TTV numbers were strongly correlated to other viral markers in wastewaters, suggesting its utility as a fecal contamination marker, data limitations and TTV presence in treated drinking waters demonstrates that additional research is needed on this potential viral indicator.
- fecal indicators
- Torque teno virus
- viral pathogen monitoring
- First received 24 September 2014.
- Accepted in revised form 28 January 2015.
- © IWA Publishing 2015