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Bradbury, K. R.; Borchardt, Mark A.; Gotkowitz, Madeline B.; Hunt, R. J. / Assessment of virus presence and potential virus pathways in deep municipal wells
[DNR-197] (2008)

Conclusions and recommendations,   pp. 33-34 PDF (769.8 KB)

Page 34

almost always and indicator or recent recharge to the well, the absence of tritium (at a
detection limit of 0.8 TU) does not necessarily indicate that the well will be virus-free. In
fact detection of viruses many be a far more sensitive indicator than tritium of a
proportion of "young" groundwater in a well if the well captures a virus source.
This study shows that human viruses can be commonly present in groundwater in deep
bedrock wells. To protect human health, communities in Wisconsin and elsewhere that
use groundwater for a drinking water source should consider using chlorination or other
water treatment techniques to deactivate viruses, and work to ensure that these systems
are operating correctly.
Sampling for viruses requires a time series approach because virus concentrations, and
virus species, vary with time in individual wells.
Untreated sewage contains very high concentrations of viruses and should be considered
a source of groundwater contamination. Wisconsin communities should evaluate sewer
infrastructure to determine the potential for leakage of untreated sewage to the
subsurface. For example, communities might wish to prioritize sewer repair or
replacement within the contributing areas of municipal wells. Research on the impacts of
sewers on groundwater quality should be encouraged.
Human enteric viruses represent a potentially powerful new tracing tool for
hydrogeologic studies. Both fundamental (theoretical and column studies) and applied
(field evaluations) research on the use and effectiveness of viruses as tracers should be

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