Human viral contamination in drinking and recreational waters poses health risks. The application of PCR-based molecular technology has advanced our knowledge of the occurrence and prevalence of human viruses in water; however, it has provided no information on viral viability and infectivity. Four human cell lines were compared for their sensitivity to different serotypes of human adenoviruses using the TCID50 test. The sensitivity of each cell line varied with different serotypes of adenovirus. Human embryonic kidney cell line 293A and human lung carcinoma cell line A549 were the most sensitive, especially to enteric adenovirus 40 and 41. Plaque assay of primary sewage samples showed 293A can detect viral plaques in 7 of 13 primary sewage samples tested. Adenoviruses were also isolated using 293A from environmental water concentrates. Cloning and sequencing of environmental adenoviral isolates indentified them to be aligned with adenoviruses serotype 40 and serotype 5. The result of this study suggests that plaque assay with 293A cell line is suitable for detection of adenovirus in the aquatic environment. Combining this cell culture with molecular methods for viral assay in the aquatic environment will provide critical information for risk assessment.