Rainwater harvesting in American Samoa: current practices and indicative health risks

Kirs, Marek, Moravcik, Philip, Gyawali, Pradip, Hamilton, Kerry, Kisand, Veljo, Gurr, Ian, Shuler, Christopher and Ahmed, Warish (2017) Rainwater harvesting in American Samoa: current practices and indicative health risks. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 1-9. doi:10.1007/s11356-017-8858-z

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Author Kirs, Marek
Moravcik, Philip
Gyawali, Pradip
Hamilton, Kerry
Kisand, Veljo
Gurr, Ian
Shuler, Christopher
Ahmed, Warish
Title Rainwater harvesting in American Samoa: current practices and indicative health risks
Journal name Environmental Science and Pollution Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1614-7499
0944-1344
Publication date 2017-03-01
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s11356-017-8858-z
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Start page 1
End page 9
Total pages 9
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Collection year 2018
Formatted abstract
Roof-harvested rainwater (RHRW) is an important alternative source of water that many island communities can use for drinking and other domestic purposes when groundwater and/or surface water sources are contaminated, limited, or simply not available. The aim of this pilot-scale study was to investigate current RHRW practices in American Samoa (AS) and to evaluate and compare the quality of water from common potable water sources including RHRW stored in tanks, untreated stream water, untreated municipal well water, and treated municipal tap water samples. Samples were analyzed using culture-based methods, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), and 16S amplicon sequencing-based methods. Based on indicator bacteria (total coliform and Escherichia coli) concentrations, the quality of RHRW was slightly lower than well and chlorinated tap water but exceeded that of untreated stream water. Although no Giardia or Leptospira spp. were detected in any of the RHRW samples, 86% of the samples were positive for Cryptosporidium spp. All stream water samples tested positive for Cryptosporidium spp. Opportunistic pathogens (Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Mycobacterium intracellulare) were also detected in the RHRW samples (71 and 21% positive samples, respectively). Several potentially pathogenic genera of bacteria were also detected in RHRW by amplicon sequencing. Each RHRW system was characterized by distinct microbial communities, 77% of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were detected only in a single tank, and no OTU was shared by all the tanks. Risk of water-borne illness increased in the following order: chlorinated tap water/well water < RHRW < stream water. Frequent detection of opportunistic pathogens indicates that RHRW should be treated before use. Stakeholder education on RHRW system design options as well as on importance of regular cleaning and proper management techniques could improve the quality of the RHRW in AS.
Keyword Roof-harvested rainwater
Drinking water quality
Fecal indicator bacteria
Opportunistic pathogens
Microbial communities
Water resources
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
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Created: Tue, 11 Apr 2017, 00:25:16 EST by Web Cron on behalf of School of Public Health