Impact of Hydrometeorological Events for the Selection of Parametric Models for Protozoan Pathogens in Drinking-Water Sources

Émile Sylvestre, Jean Baptiste Burnet, Sarah Dorner, Patrick Smeets, Gertjan Medema, Manuela Villion, Mounia Hachad, Michèle Prévost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Temporal variations in concentrations of pathogenic microorganisms in surface waters are well known to be influenced by hydrometeorological events. Reasonable methods for accounting for microbial peaks in the quantification of drinking water treatment requirements need to be addressed. Here, we applied a novel method for data collection and model validation to explicitly account for weather events (rainfall, snowmelt) when concentrations of pathogens are estimated in source water. Online in situ β-d-glucuronidase activity measurements were used to trigger sequential grab sampling of source water to quantify Cryptosporidium and Giardia concentrations during rainfall and snowmelt events at an urban and an agricultural drinking water treatment plant in Quebec, Canada. We then evaluate if mixed Poisson distributions fitted to monthly sampling data ((Formula presented.) = 30 samples) could accurately predict daily mean concentrations during these events. We found that using the gamma distribution underestimated high Cryptosporidium and Giardia concentrations measured with routine or event-based monitoring. However, the log-normal distribution accurately predicted these high concentrations. The selection of a log-normal distribution in preference to a gamma distribution increased the annual mean concentration by less than 0.1-log but increased the upper bound of the 95% credibility interval on the annual mean by about 0.5-log. Therefore, considering parametric uncertainty in an exposure assessment is essential to account for microbial peaks in risk assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1413-1426
Number of pages14
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cryptosporidium
  • drinking water
  • Giardia
  • hydrometeorology
  • risk assessment


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