QMRAcatch: Human-associated fecal pollution and infection risk modeling for a river/floodplain environment

Julia Derx, Jack Schijven, Regina Sommer, Christa M. Zoufal-Hruza, Inge H. van Driezum, Georg Reischer, Simone Ixenmaier, Alexander Kirschner, Christina Frick, Ana Maria de Roda Husman, Andreas H. Farnleitner, Alfred Paul Blaschke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

20 Citations (Scopus)


Protection of drinking water resources requires addressing all relevant fecal pollution sources in the considered catchment. A freely available simulation tool, QMRAcatch, was recently developed to simulate concentrations of fecal indicators, a genetic microbial source tracking (MST) marker, and intestinal pathogens in water resources and to conduct a quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA). At the same time, QMRAcatch was successfully applied to a region of the Danube River in Austria, focusing on municipal wastewater emissions. Herein, we describe extension of its application to a Danube River floodplain, keeping the focus on fecal sources of human origin. QMRAcatch was calibrated to match measured human-associated MST marker concentrations for a dry year and a wet year. Appropriate performance characteristics of the human-associated MST assay were proven by simulating correct and false-positive marker concentrations, as determined in human and animal feces. With the calibrated tool, simulated and measured enterovirus concentrations in the rivers were compared. Finally, the calibrated tool allowed demonstrating that 4.5 log10 enterovirus and 6.6 log10 norovirus reductions must be achieved to convert current surface water to safe drinking water that complies with a health-based target of 10-4 infections person-1 yr-1. Simulations of the low- and high-pollution scenarios showed that the required viral reductions ranged from 0 to 8 log10. This study has implications for water managers with interests in assessing robust catchment protection measures and water treatment criteria by considering the fate of fecal pollution from its sources to the point of abstraction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1205-1214
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Feces
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Rivers
  • Water Microbiology
  • Water Pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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