Biofilters are a widely used stormwater treatment technology. However; other than some evidence regarding non-pathogenic indicator microorganisms; there are significant knowledge gaps in the capacity of stormwater biofilters to remove actual pathogens and how this removal is impacted by biofilter design elements and operational conditions. In this study; we explored the capacity of stormwater biofilters to remove three reference pathogens (Campylobacter spp.; adenovirus and Cryptosporidium oocysts) and compared these to commonly used indicator microorganisms (E. coli; FRNA coliphages and Clostridium perfringens). Two different biofilter designs; each having a submerged zone (SZ); were tested under extended dry weather periods (up to 4 weeks) and different event volumes (the equivalent of 1–2 pore volumes) in a laboratory trial. These systems were able to consistently reduce the concentrations of all tested reference pathogens (average log reduction in Campylobacter spp. = 0.7; adenovirus = 1.0 and Cryptosporidium oocysts = 1.7) and two of the indicators (average log reduction in E. coli = 1.2 and C. perfringens = 2.1). However; none of the tested indicators consistently mimicked the removal performance of their corresponding reference pathogens after extended dry weather periods and during larger simulated storm events. This indicates that the behaviour of these pathogens in stormwater biofilters are not adequately represented by their corresponding indicator microorganisms and that to optimise biofilter designs for pathogen removal it is critical to further study pathogen removal processes in these systems.

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Last updated: 15th Jan 2018