Office of Environmental Protection and Energy

Basel Landschaft, Switzerland

Office of Environmental Protection and Energy

Basel Landschaft, Switzerland
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Moeck C.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Affolter A.,University of Basel | Radny D.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Dressmann H.,University of Basel | And 4 more authors.
Hydrogeology Journal | Year: 2017

A three-dimensional groundwater model was used to improve water resource management for a study area in north-west Switzerland, where drinking-water production is close to former landfills and industrial areas. To avoid drinking-water contamination, artificial groundwater recharge with surface water is used to create a hydraulic barrier between the contaminated sites and drinking-water extraction wells. The model was used for simulating existing and proposed water management strategies as a tool to ensure the utmost security for drinking water. A systematic evaluation of the flow direction between existing observation points using a developed three-point estimation method for a large number of scenarios was carried out. It is demonstrated that systematically applying the developed methodology helps to identify vulnerable locations which are sensitive to changing boundary conditions such as those arising from changes to artificial groundwater recharge rates. At these locations, additional investigations and protection are required. The presented integrated approach, using the groundwater flow direction between observation points, can be easily transferred to a variety of hydrological settings to systematically evaluate groundwater modelling scenarios. © 2017 Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany


Moeck C.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Radny D.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Auckenthaler A.,Office of Environmental Protection and Energy | Berg M.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | And 4 more authors.
Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies | Year: 2017

Stable isotopes of water, organic micropollutants and hydrochemistry data are powerful tools for identifying different water types in areas where knowledge of the spatial distribution of different groundwater is critical for water resource management. An important question is how the assessments change if only one or a subset of these tracers is used. In this study, we estimate spatial artificial infiltration along an infiltration system with stage–discharge relationships and classify different water types based on the mentioned hydrochemistry data for a drinking water production area in Switzerland. Managed aquifer recharge via surface water that feeds into the aquifer creates a hydraulic barrier between contaminated groundwater and drinking water wells. We systematically compare the information from the aforementioned tracers and illustrate differences in distribution and mixing ratios. Despite uncertainties in the mixing ratios, we found that the overall spatial distribution of artificial infiltration is very similar for all the tracers. The highest infiltration occurred in the eastern part of the infiltration system, whereas infiltration in the western part was the lowest. More balanced infiltration within the infiltration system could cause the elevated groundwater mound to be distributed more evenly, preventing the natural inflow of contaminated groundwater. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group


Moeck C.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Radny D.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Popp A.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Popp A.,ETH Zurich | And 6 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2017

Knowledge about the residence times of artificially infiltrated water into an aquifer and the resulting flow paths is essential to developing groundwater-management schemes. To obtain this knowledge, a variety of tracers can be used to study residence times and gain information about subsurface processes. Although a variety of tracers exists, their interpretation can differ considerably due to subsurface heterogeneity, underlying assumptions, and sampling and analysis limitations. The current study systematically assesses information gained from seven different tracers during a pumping experiment at a site where drinking water is extracted from an aquifer close to contaminated areas and where groundwater is artificially recharged by infiltrating surface water. We demonstrate that the groundwater residence times estimated using dye and heat tracers are comparable when the thermal retardation for the heat tracer is considered. Furthermore, major ions, acesulfame, and stable isotopes (δ2H and δ18O) show that mixing of infiltrated water and groundwater coming from the regional flow path occurred and a vertical stratification of the flow system exist. Based on the concentration patterns of dissolved gases (He, Ar, Kr, N2, and O2) and chlorinated solvents (e.g., tetrachloroethene), three temporal phases are observed in the ratio between infiltrated water and regional groundwater during the pumping experiment. Variability in this ratio is significantly related to changes in the pumping and infiltration rates. During constant pumping rates, more infiltrated water was extracted, which led to a higher dilution of the regional groundwater. An infiltration interruption caused however, the ratio to change and more regional groundwater is extracted, which led to an increase in all concentrations. The obtained results are discussed for each tracer considered and its strengths and limitations are illustrated. Overall, it is demonstrated that aquifer heterogeneity and various subsurface processes necessitate application of multiple tracers to quantify uncertainty when identifying flow processes. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.


Wicki M.,Federal office of Public Health of Fribourg | Wicki M.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Wicki M.,University of Basel | Auckenthaler A.,Office of Environmental Protection and Energy | And 7 more authors.
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology | Year: 2012

Agricultural practices, such as spreading liquid manure or the utilisation of land as animal pastures, can result in faecal contamination of water resources. Rhodococcus coprophilus is used in microbial source tracking to indicate animal faecal contamination in water. Methods previously described for detecting of R. coprophilus in water were neither sensitive nor specific. Therefore, the aim of this study was to design and validate a new quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to improve the detection of R. coprophilus in water. The new PCR assay was based on the R. coprophilus 16S rRNA gene. The validation showed that the new approach was specific and sensitive for deoxyribunucleic acid from target host species. Compared with other PCR assays tested in this study, the detection limit of the new qPCR was between 1 and 3 log lower. The method, including a filtration step, was further validated and successfully used in a field investigation in Switzerland. Our work demonstrated that the new detection method is sensitive and robust to detect R. coprophilus in surface and spring water. Compared with PCR assays that are available in the literature or to the culture-dependent method, the new molecular approach improves the detection of R. coprophilus. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.


Wicki M.,Federal office of Public Health of Fribourg | Wicki M.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Wicki M.,University of Basel | Auckenthaler A.,Office of Environmental Protection and Energy | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Water and Health | Year: 2011

Bacteriophages active against specific Bacteroides host strains were shown to be suitable for detection of human faecal pollution. However, the practical application of this finding is limited because some specific host strains were restricted to certain geographic regions. In this study, novel Bacteroides host strains were isolated that discriminate human and animal faecal pollution in Switzerland. Two strains specific for bacteriophages present in human faecal contamination and three strains specific for bacteriophages indicating animal faecal contamination were evaluated. Bacteriophages infecting human strains were exclusively found in human wastewater, whereas animal strains detected bacteriophages only in animal waste. The newly isolated host strains could be used to determine the source of surface and spring water faecal contamination in field situations. Applying the newly isolated host Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron ARABA 84 for detection of bacteriophages allowed the detection of human faecal contamination in spring water. © IWA Publishing 2011.


Wicki M.,University of Basel | Auckenthaler A.,Office of Environmental Protection and Energy | Felleisen R.,Andreas Baumgartner Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office | Karabulut F.,SAKK | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Water and Health | Year: 2015

For discriminating between human and animal faecal contamination in water, microbial source tracking (MST) approaches using different indicators have been employed. In the current study, a range of 10 such MST indicators described in the scientific literature were comparatively assessed. Bacteriophages infecting host strains of Bacteroides (GA-17, GB-124 and ARABA 84) as well as sorbitol-fermenting bifidobacteria proved useful for indicating human faecal contamination while Rhodococcus coprophilus was associated with animal-derived faecal contamination. These potential source indicators were present in samples of faecal origin, i.e. either in human wastewater or animal waste, from many different regions in Switzerland and therefore showed a geographic stability. In addition, the MST indicators were abundant in surface water and were even sensitive enough to detect faecal contamination in spring water from two study areas in Switzerland. This is the first study that has compared and successfully applied MST methods in spring water. © IWA Publishing 2015.


Wicki M.,Federal office of Public Health of Fribourg | Wicki M.,Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Wicki M.,University of Basel | Karabulut F.,Federal office of Public Health of Fribourg | And 6 more authors.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology | Year: 2011

The localization of fecal input sites is important for water quality management. For this purpose, we have developed a new approach based on a three-step procedure, including a preparatory phase, the screening of multiresistant bacteria using selective agar plates, and a typing phase where selected Escherichia coli isolates are characterized by antibiotic resistance profiles and molecular fingerprinting techniques (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis [PFGE]). These two well-known source tracking methods were combined in order to reduce cost and effort. This approach was successfully applied under field conditions in a study area located in the north-western part of Switzerland. E. coli isolates from spring water and surface water samples collected in this area were screened with selective agar plates. In this way, 21 different groups, each consisting of strains with the same pattern of antibiotic resistance, were found. Of these, four groups were further analyzed using PFGE. Strains with identical PFGE profiles were detected repeatedly, demonstrating the suitability of this method for the localization of fecal input sites over an extended period of time. Identical PFGE patterns of strains detected in water from two different springs were also found in the stream flowing through the study area. These results demonstrated the applicability of the new approach for the examination of incidents of fecal contamination in drinking water. The advantages of the described approach over genotyping methods currently being used to identify sources of fecal contaminants are a reduction in time, costs, and the effort required. Identical isolates could be identified without the construction of large libraries. © 2011, American Society for Microbiology.


PubMed | Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office, University of Basel, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Office of Environmental Protection and Energy and SAKK
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of water and health | Year: 2015

For discriminating between human and animal faecal contamination in water, microbial source tracking (MST) approaches using different indicators have been employed. In the current study, a range of 10 such MST indicators described in the scientific literature were comparatively assessed. Bacteriophages infecting host strains of Bacteroides (GA-17, GB-124 and ARABA 84) as well as sorbitol-fermenting bifidobacteria proved useful for indicating human faecal contamination while Rhodococcus coprophilus was associated with animal-derived faecal contamination. These potential source indicators were present in samples of faecal origin, i.e. either in human wastewater or animal waste, from many different regions in Switzerland and therefore showed a geographic stability. In addition, the MST indicators were abundant in surface water and were even sensitive enough to detect faecal contamination in spring water from two study areas in Switzerland. This is the first study that has compared and successfully applied MST methods in spring water.


PubMed | Office of Environmental Protection and Energy
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of water and health | Year: 2011

Bacteriophages active against specific Bacteroides host strains were shown to be suitable for detection of human faecal pollution. However, the practical application of this finding is limited because some specific host strains were restricted to certain geographic regions. In this study, novel Bacteroides host strains were isolated that discriminate human and animal faecal pollution in Switzerland. Two strains specific for bacteriophages present in human faecal contamination and three strains specific for bacteriophages indicating animal faecal contamination were evaluated. Bacteriophages infecting human strains were exclusively found in human wastewater, whereas animal strains detected bacteriophages only in animal waste. The newly isolated host strains could be used to determine the source of surface and spring water faecal contamination in field situations. Applying the newly isolated host Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron ARABA 84 for detection of bacteriophages allowed the detection of human faecal contamination in spring water.

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