A quantitative microbial risk assessment of water reuse for California’s agricultural irrigation

The current drought in California highlights how precious a resource water is to the lives of California residents, the state’s natural ecosystems, and its agricultural economy. Over the last few decades, recycled water — the reuse of treated wastewater — has played an important role in meeting ever increasing demands for water.  Since the early days of water reuse, questions concerning the safety to public health have been raised numerous times.  And, the practice of quantitative microbial risk assessment has responded by evaluating the efficacy of treatment processes on the removal of infectious agents in wastewater, and by assessing quantitatively using risk models, the potential for water reuse to result in infection and disease in human populations through various exposure scenarios.

I was involved in the quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) modeling for a recent review of water reuse for California’s agricultural irrigation.  The QMRA was part of a process that involved input from a panel of experts, who addressed a number of issues relevant to developing assumptions for the QMRA, as well as relevant to the interpretation of the QMRA’s findings.  The panel and QMRA were commissioned by the California Department of Public Health, which recognized the need to reassess risks given the potential for increasing water reuse in agricultural irrigation, improved knowledge of the concentrations of microbial pathogens found in wastewater, and new treatment processes.  The report of the findings from this process is available here.


Launch of FoodScoreMap.com (beta test)

We’ve lauched a new website called foodscoremap.com.

Foodscoremap.com allows users to create maps of the food environment for communities of concern.  We hope that such a tool can greatly enable food environment policy research, including those aimed at solving food access inequalities.

The site has a quite a few features:

  • Mapping (obviously)
  • Downloading data (really powerful — access to real data for real research)
  • Personalization (select search region, types of food of importance)

Thanks Crystal Dou and Daniel Wu for putting this site together.  It’s not perfect yet, but we’ve started a beta test to start getting feedback on the site.  Please try it out and let us know what you think.

Foodscoremap.com was created largely from donations. If you’d like to support further development of the site, please click on the “Support the project” button on the foodscoremap.com site.

2012 Health Impact Assessments

Rajiv Bhatia and I have just finished teaching the Spring 2012 Health Impact Assessment course at UC Berkeley.  As usual, we had a gifted group of students work with us on some great HIAs:

  • East Bay Bus Rapid Transit HIA
  • HIA of Israeli Settlements in the West Bank
  • Facebook Campus Expansion HIA
  • Oakland Army Base Redevelopment HIA
  • Richmond, CA Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax HIA
  • HIA of Targeted Residential Energy Efficiency Subsidies in San Francisco

Feel free to contact me or Rajiv to talk about these HIA or contact the UCBHIG students responsible for the HIAs.