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Risk-based approach to evaluate the public health benefit of additional wastewater treatment.

Abstract

The City of Stockton, CA operates a wastewater treatment facility that discharges tertiary treated effluent during the summer and secondary treated effluent during the winter to the San Joaquin River. Investigations were carried out between 1996 and 2002 to provide insight regarding the potential public health benefit that may be provided by year-round tertiary treatment. A hydraulic model of the San Joaquin River and a dynamic disease transmission model integrated a wide array of disparate data to estimate the level of viral gastroenteritis in the population under the two treatment scenarios. The results of the investigation suggest that risk of viral gastroenteritis attributable to the treatment facility under the existing treatment scheme is several orders of magnitude below the 8-14 illnesses per 1000 recreation events considered tolerable by U.S. EPA, and winter tertiary treatment would further reduce the existing risk by approximately 15-50%. The methodologies employed herein are applicable to other watersheds where additional water treatment is being considered to address public health concerns from recreation in receiving waters.

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