‘Turds’ flow through NZ bistro-days after $150,000 fit-out

Hamish McNeilly of Stuff reports a new bistro in Otago that opened less than two weeks ago has been forced to close because of “turds, toilet paper, and p….”.

The word is poop.

Tap & Dough owner Norma Emerson is unsure when, or even if, the fledgling Middlemarch business will open its doors again.

Business had been “going well” until Tuesday night, Emerson said.

Otago bistro Tap & Dough opened on November 10, but was forced to close after floodwater and sewage flowed through the building.

“We expected to see, at the most, a little water in. What we did not expected was the sewage.”

Just metres from the business at the corner of Mold St and Snow Ave, raw sewage overflowed in the rising waters.

Floodwater and raw sewage flowed through The Tap & Dough.

Emerson and her brewer husband, Richard, spent about $150,000 fitting out the leased property, which opened on November 10.

But on Wednesday, decontaminating contractors were removing carpets, wall linings and wood panelling.

“This is a major job. We had turds in here, and all over the carpet.”

When she realised raw sewage was “lapping” at the doors on Tuesday, she called for help.

“I did what any reasonable citizen would do, and rung emergency services”.

Emerson said she was upset by a comment from local Strath Taieri board chairman Barry Williams as volunteers from the fire brigade helped pump water from the bistro.

“He went to the fire brigade and said ‘why are the Emerson’s getting preferential treatment?”‘

“Do I not have a right to protect my property, I’m furious about that.

“It is an emergency when s…., turds, toilet paper, and p…. flow through your door at an eating establishment, at which you have just spent $150,000 on refurbishing.”

The word is shit.

Williams told Stuff he did not recall the incident unfolding that way.

“That’s bloody strange,” he said.

He maintained he asked the volunteer firefighters to pump the excess water into an open ditch, rather than the side of the street.

Williams said he hoped to clear the air with Emerson, “or she could call me”.

It was one of several businesses impacted by sewage in the town, a popular start/finishing point for the Otago Central Rail Trail – about 80km from Dunedin.

On Tuesday a Dunedin City Council spokeswoman said three streets in Middlemarch were closed due to surging from the wastewater network, with a pump used to provide extra capacity.

You got water problems? These are water problems: Food production in arid regions

Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time that pose unprecedented stress to the environment and threats to human health. The global impacts of climate change are vast, spanning from extreme weather events to changes in patterns and distribution of infectious diseases.

Lack of rainfall associated with higher temperatures has a direct influence on agricultural production. This is compounded by a growing population forecasted to expand further with increasing needs for food and water. All this has led to the increasing use of wastewater worldwide.

In this review, we more specifically discuss the use of untreated wastewater in agriculture in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, the most arid region in the world. This presents challenges for agriculture with respect to water availability and increasing wastewater use in agri-food chain. This in turn exerts pressures on the safety of food raised from such irrigated crops.

Current practices in the MENA region indicate that ineffective water resource management, lack of water quality policies, and slow-paced wastewater management strategies continue to contribute to a decline in water resources and an increased unplanned use of black and graywater in agriculture. Radical actions are needed in the region to improve water and wastewater management to adapt to these impacts.

In this regard, the 2006 WHO guidelines for the use of wastewater contain recommendations for the most effective solutions. They provide a step-by-step guide for series of appropriate health protection measures for microbial reduction targets of 6 log units for viral, bacterial, and protozoan pathogens, but these need to be combined with new varieties of crops that are drought and pest resistant. More research into economic local treatment procedures for wastewater in the region is warranted.

The Impact of Climate Change on Raw and Untreated Wastewater Use for Agriculture, Especially in Arid Regions: A Review


Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, Volume 15, No. 2

Faour-Klingbeil Dima  and Todd Ewen C.D.



Hepatitis A is endemic in Tunisia wastewater

Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is the main causative agent of hepatitis infection associated with waterborne outbreaks worldwide. In Tunisia, there is no specific surveillance system for HAV and current secondary wastewater treatment processes are unable to remove viral particles, which present a potential public health problem.

tunisia.wastewaterQualitative and quantitative analysis of HAV in 271 raw and treated wastewater samples from five sewage treatment plants (STPs) during 13 months was performed. Moreover, the efficiency of three secondary wastewater treatment processes (conventional activated sludge, extended aeration, and oxidation ditch activated sludge) was evaluated.

Data obtained demonstrated that HAV is endemic in Tunisia and circulates with high prevalence in both raw (66.9%) and treated (40.7%) wastewater. HAV circulates throughout the year in the coastal areas, with the highest rates found during summer and autumn, whereas in central Tunisia, high levels were shown in autumn and winter. Total virus removal was not achieved, since no difference in mean HAV loads was observed in effluents (6.0 × 103 genome copies [GC]/ml) and influents (2.7 × 103 GC/ml). The comparison of the HAV removal values of the three different wastewater treatment methods indicates that extended aeration and oxidation ditch activated sludge had better efficiency in removing viruses than conventional activated sludge did.

Molecular characterization revealed that the vast majority of HAV strains belonged to subgenotype IA, with the cocirculation of subgenotype IB in wastewater treatment plants that collect tourism wastewater.

Detection and molecular characterization of Hepatitis A virus from Tunisian wastewater treatment plants with different secondary treatments

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. July 2016 vol. 82 no. 13 3834-3845, DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00619-16

Imen Ouardani, Syrine Turki, Mahjoub Aouni, and Jesús L. Romalde



Careful with that poop; stricter controls of wastewater reuse on crops needed to meet WHO guidelines

Wastewater used to irrigate agricultural crops in countries where water is scarce may contribute to significant public health risks such as diarrheal disease in children from rotavirus. A new study of these risks found that wastewater used to irrigate vegetable plots in Asian countries poses health risks that may exceed World Health Organization (WHO) wastewater.veg.chinaguidelines. The authors recommend that stricter wastewater regulation may be needed to protect the health of farmers and consumers worldwide.

The new findings come at a time when climate change and increasing population pressure requires the development of methods to produce more food with fewer irrigation resources. Wastewater reuse is an economical method to grow food, but wastewater carries microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and protozoa that can contaminate food and cause disease. Asia accounts for the majority of the world’s reuse of wastewater in irrigation, and given that China is the world’s most populous country, millions of people may be exposed to health risks from contamination. However, normal cooking temperatures and food preservation strategies can reduce the risks posed by microorganisms and viruses.

Although health studies can trace the incidence of disease in a population, conducting extensive experimental work and collecting sufficient data can be cost-prohibitive. Food systems researchers Hoi-Fei Mok and Andrew J. Hamilton of The University of Melbourne in Australia instead created a statistical model to characterize the health risks posed by wastewater used to grow Asian vegetables. The reach of the Asian vegetable market extends well beyond Asia. Their paper, “Exposure factors for wastewater-irrigated Asian vegetables and a probabilistic rotavirus disease burden model for their consumption,” recently appeared in the electronic version of the journal Risk Analysis, published by the Society for Risk Analysis.

The researchers first determined the volume of water retained by three commonly grown Asian vegetables, and then used a statistical model to estimate rotavirus disease burdens associated with wastewater irrigation. Rotavirus is associated with diarrheal disease in children, and was chosen as the focus of the study because diarrheal disease is associated with 74 percent of wastewater-related deaths, 90 percent of which occur in children. According to the WHO, diarrheal disease is the second leading global cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for the deaths of approximately wastewater.china760,000 children each year. Diarrhea can last several days, and can leave the body without the water and salts that are necessary for survival. Most people who die from diarrhea actually die from severe dehydration and fluid loss.

Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that the probability curves of the annual disease burden “exceeded the WHO’s threshold for acceptable level of risk from wastewater reuse by two to three orders of magnitude.” Some vegetables posed greater risk than others, because leaf shape affects the amount of wastewater and contaminants that are retained. Vegetables such as bok choy posed the least risk and choy sum the greatest risk, whereas lettuce and gai lan had similar risk profiles. The viral decay rate also varies depending on the plant. The authors say that more research on the rate of viral decay on various crops would increase the accuracy of risk estimations.

The probability of rotavirus infection is affected by uncertainty in virus concentration and variation in vegetable consumption. For example, the mean daily per capita lettuce consumption in Australia is 21.81 grams lettuce/person day, compared to a mean of 171.94 grams lettuce / person day in China, although there is seasonal variation in consumption patterns.

The dose-response model, which characterizes the relationship between exposure level to contaminants and the probability of developing disease, is a source of uncertainty in the risk assessment. The rotavirus infection rates were based on data from an infectivity trial in adults, but rotavirus primarily affects children. Lower doses induce infectivity in children faster than adults, so the estimated disease burdens from the researchers’ statistical model may underestimate the actual risk to children. Collecting rotavirus infectivity data for children would improve the accuracy of risk assessments of the threat.

Although there are Chinese national standards and regulations for the reuse of wastewater, they present only threshold concentrations for bacteria such as E. coli, not viruses. Furthermore, while there are regulations relating to water quality, there is no guideline for risk management around wastewater reuse in China. The risk management approach involves more pro-active identification and management of risk, rather than relying on post-treatment testing for managing reuse schemes. Considering the global increase in wastewater use for agricultural irrigation, assessing the health risks from reuse schemes is necessary to develop better wastewater management policies to protect public health.