EPA Proposes Detection Methods for Bacteria in Wastewater, Biosolids

EPA is considering culture-based test methods to detect enterococci and Escherichia coli in wastewater.

Oct 1st, 2005

EPA is considering culture-based test methods to detect enterococci and Escherichia coli in wastewater. When adopted, the tests will be the first EPA-approved methods ever available for detecting these bacteria in wastewater, according to an agency press statement.

The tests “will yield results within 24 hours and provide treatment facilities with an indication of the effectiveness of their treatment techniques,” the statement said.

EPA also will propose new methods to detect salmonella and fecal coliform bacteria in biosolids. Bacteria detected using the new methods would serve as indicators of potential contamination and the need for additional investigation and treatment, the statement said.

“These tools have proved reliable through extensive testing and verification,” said EPA Assistant Administrator Ben Grumbles. “They will increase our confidence in test results that detect bacteria in wastewater and sewage sludge. Once these procedures are in place, they will better protect the public, particularly children who are often more vulnerable to bacteria-caused illnesses in water.”

For additional information, see the EPA Web site at www.epa.gov/waterscience/methods , or contact Robin Oshiro in the agency’s Office of Water at Oshiro.Robin@epa.gov).

Unregulated Contaminants

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule to monitor 26 unregulated drinking water contaminants under the second cycle of its Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 2).

EPA will use the data to help it determine whether to regulate the contaminants, their occurrence in drinking water, the potential population exposed to each, and the levels of exposure.

The rule encompasses contaminants not regulated under existing law. EPA currently has regulations for more than 90 contaminants. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to identify up to 30 contaminants for monitoring every five years. The first cycle, UCMR 1, published in 1999, covered 25 chemicals and one microorganism.

The contaminants are divided into two lists: assessment monitoring and screening surveys. EPA has information from some public water systems on 11 contaminants chosen for assessment monitoring but lacks a national estimate of how widely they occur. EPA needs to collect more data on the 15 selected for screening surveys because analytical methods have been only recently developed.

All public water systems serving more than 10,000 people and a sample of 800 systems serving 10,000 people or fewer will monitor those contaminants for 12 months. Also, 322 systems serving more than 100,000 people and 800 serving 100,000 or fewer will conduct screening surveys for 12 months.

EPA said the five-year UCMR 2 will cost about $42.1 million. It will conduct and pay for the monitoring of water systems serving 10,000 people or less. WW

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