Environmental Practice


ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW & CASE STUDY: Evaluating the Significance of Certain Pharmaceuticals and Emerging Pathogens in Raw Water Supplies

Frederick Bloetschera1 c1 and Jeanine D. Plummera2

a1 Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering, Florida Atlantic University; and Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering, Boca Raton, Florida

a2 Civil and Environmental Engineering, Schwaber Professorship in Environmental Engineering, and Director, Environmental Engineering Program, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts


Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are environmental contaminants introduced by the activities of man. PPCPs are not new or emerging from the perspective of knowing about them, but they are of growing interest due to reports in the popular media on occurrence and environmental impacts. As a result, PPCPs may be deemed as emerging issues by the public and utilities. Likewise, the biological constituents are not new—but, for reasons that are unclear, certain ones appear to pose a greater risk to consumers today than they have in the past. Similarly, Cryptosporidium parvum did not appear to pose a risk until 400,000 people became ill, and approximately 100 people died of cryptosporidiosis in Milwaukee's water service area in 1993. Today, regulators and public health scientists are trying to identify microbes that pose a similar risk in the future. If these constituents occur in raw water supplies, they may need monitoring and treatment prior to these waters entering the potable water distribution system. The Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) developed by United States Environmental Protection Agency outlines a series of biological contaminants of concern that are not currently regulated but may pose a threat. Should these contaminants move from the CCL to a regulatory framework, water supply utilities will incur added monitoring and testing of their water supply sources, and potentially added monitoring and treatment costs in their operations.

Environmental Practice 13:198–215 (2011)

(Received January 03 2011)

(Revised March 30 2011)

(Accepted May 16 2011)

(Online publication September 14 2011)


c1 Frederick Bloetscher, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering, Campus: Boca Campus, Office: EG36/Room 219, FAU, Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering, 777 Glades Road–EG36/219, Boca Raton, FL 33431; (phone) 239-250-2423; (fax) 561-297-0493; (e-mail) fbloetsc@fau.edu

Frederick Bloetscher, PE, DWRE, LEED-AP, is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatics Engineering at Florida Atlantic University. He is a former utility director and deputy director for several large water and sewer systems. He has spent considerable time working on water resource sustainability issues, which has caused him to become involved in aquifer storage and recovery wells, injection wells, outfall impacts, climate change impacts on water resources, water resource risk assessments, and infrastructure/utility management. He earned his BS in civil engineering from the University of Cincinnati, his master's degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his PhD in civil/environmental engineering from the University of Miami. He has authored and/or edited five books.

Jeanine D. Plummer earned her BS from Cornell University, and her MS and PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She joined the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) faculty in 1999, was named the Director of Environmental Engineering in 2006, and installed as the first Schwaber Professor of Environmental Engineering in 2009. Dr. Plummer has received the WPI Board of Trustees' Award for Academic Advising (2005), the WPI Board of Trustees' Award for Outstanding Teaching (2006), and the Professor of the Year for Massachusetts from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (2008). In her research, Dr. Plummer explores factors that affect the quality of drinking water, with particular interests in source water monitoring, fecal pollution, microbial source tracking, and indicator systems for pathogens. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Water Research Foundation. She is an active member of the American Water Works Association and is a trustee in the Water Science and Research Division.