Stormwater constructed wetlands: A source or a sink of Campylobacter spp.

Ze Meng, Gayani Chandrasena, Rebekah Henry, Ana Deletic, Peter Kolotelo, David McCarthy

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Stormwater constructed wetlands are not well characterised for their ability to remove pathogens which can pose public health risks during stormwater harvesting activities. This study investigated the behaviour of faecal indicator organism Escherichia coli (E. coli) and reference pathogen Campylobacter spp. in stormwater constructed wetlands, using a case study system located in Melbourne, Australia. Grab sampling and event-based monitoring revealed influent concentrations of E. coli were typical of other urban stormwater studies, yet Campylobacter concentrations were orders of magnitude above those urban stormwater studies used to develop the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling, reached levels typical of raw domestic wastewater. The wetland consistently removed E. coli from stormwater (mean log removal 0.96, range 0.19–1.79), while Campylobacter spp. concentrations were often higher in outflow than inflow (mean log removal 0.05, range −0.9-1.25). These results indicate that E. coli is a poor indicator for this reference pathogen. The log reductions of both organisms also failed to meet the criteria specified for any end-use, as listed in the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling, suggesting further treatment is required prior to harvesting. Finally, this study proposed that direct faecal deposition by waterfowl faeces was a microbial source to stormwater wetlands and that this was partly responsible for the varied microbial removal rates observed. Overall, this work validates the need for further characterisation of pathogens in raw urban stormwater, and the ability for water sensitive urban design features, such as wetlands, to remove both indicator and pathogenic microorganisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-227
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2018


  • Campylobacter
  • Constructed wetland
  • Direct faecal deposition
  • E. coli
  • Event-based sampling
  • Urban stormwater harvesting

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