Legionella - A threat to groundwater: Pathogen transport in recharge basin

Lauren R. McBurnett, Nathan T. Holt, Absar Alum, Morteza Abbaszadegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This study elucidates the potential risk posed by Legionella during aquifer recharge practices. Experiments were conducted using pilot-scale column simulating infiltration of bacterial surrogate and pathogen, E. coli and Legionella pneumophila, under central Arizona recharge basin conditions. A column was packed with a loamy sand media collected from a recharge basin and was fitted with six sampling ports at soil depths of 15, 30, 60, 92, 122 cm and acclimated for a month with tertiary treated wastewater. Transport of Legionella appeared to be delayed compared to E. coli. The breakthrough of E. coli and Legionella at 122 cm depth occurred at 3 and 24 h, respectively. Slow transport of Legionella is consistent with its pleomorphic nature and variation in size and shape under low nutrient conditions. Legionella persisted for a longer time in the column, but at lower concentrations. Given the novel results of this study, the transport of Legionella into groundwater aquifers can occur through engineering recharge basin conditions creating a potential public health risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1485-1490
Number of pages6
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Apr 15 2018


  • E. coli
  • Ground water contamination
  • Legionella
  • Recharge basin
  • Transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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