In the wake of growing suspicion of the implication of poor wastewater treatment in the Hepatitis A virus outbreak in the Eastern Cape Province, this study aimed to investigate the survival of viral indicators in treated effluent samples collected from four wastewater treatment plants of this province and to determine the impact of the effluents on the receiving water bodies. The concentration of free chlorine residuals and the viral quality of the effluents in terms of somatic and F-RNA coliphages were determined according to standard methods. The study revealed that although the average free chlorine residual concentration of the treated effluents was ≤0.32 mg L-1, somatic and F-RNA coliphages were still found in the treated effluents. Viral quality of the treated effluent samples collected from Alice, Fort Beaufort, Dimbaza and East London wastewater treatment plants was very poor and did not complied with the recommended limits set by the official guidelines in South Africa in terms of coliphages, which are 0-1 pfu/100 mL for negligible risk for domestic water use and 0-20 pfu/100 mL for recreational water use. There were generally higher somatic coliphage counts (average ranges: 4.67 log10 to 6.39 log10 pfu/100 mL) than F-RNA coliphage counts (average ranges: 3.37 log10 to 5.26 log10 pfu/100 mL) in the treated effluents. In the receiving water bodies, the highest and the lowest counts of both somatic (average: 5.12 log10 pfu/100 mL and F-RNA (5.58 log10 pfu/100 mL) coliphages were recorded in Dimbaza and East London, respectively. The direct relationship between the poor viral quality of the treated effluents, the impact on the receiving water bodies and the consequent threat to the health of the surrounding communities calls for a modified approach in disinfection and proper management of wastewater treatment plants in the province.
Maggy N.B. Momba, M. Sibewu and A. Mandeya, 2009. Survival of Somatic and F-RNA Coliphages in Treated Wastewater Effluents and their Impact on Viral Quality of the Receiving Water Bodies in the Eastern Cape Province-South Africa. Journal of Biological Sciences, 9: 648-654.