David Blair

Ph.D. Candidate

Civil Engineering

Queen's University

2018 - 2021

Supervisor(s): Pascale Champagne, Stephen Brown

Research Project: "Real Time" Detection & Quantification Indicator Organisms for Source Water Protection

There is a need to increase current capability of quantifying indicator organisms being monitored at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in near real-time. Near real-time quantification of bacteria has the potential to improve WWTPs and watershed protection by allowing for the modification of treatment systems. This can prevent elevated pathogenic discharges and enable the use of naturalised treatment systems, which are highly effective for remote and rural communities. Better treatment control is made possible by rapid test results, completed before the residence time of the treatment or spread of pathogenic contamination. This project assessed test reliability with source water samples of high organic content, like that found in bogs, wetlands, and watersheds.  Developing an improved bacteria detection method advances the understanding of the watershed processes. Given that bacteriological composition is important for both discharge limits and determining the efficiency of water treatment within WWTPs, the project is looking to broaden bacterial quantifiability on a range of bacteria specific to wastewater quality. This research assesses the feasibility of quantifying wastewater E. coli and fecal coliforms composition, in comparison to reference methods, using rapid enzyme-substrate analysis with the wide-range of water quality found in wastewater and watersheds.