The Salmonella presence and the microbiological quality indicators, total and fecal coliforms and coliphages of E. coli C, have been studied in a overloaded wastewater lagoon system treating urban wastewatrers of the village of Guardamar del Segura (Alicante, Spain). Classical microbiological technology to detect salmonellae was used, including pre-enrichment, enrichment, selective media plating and biochemical and serological confirmation. Water was physicochemically characterized according to COD, SS, temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen. The selective migration step through Rappaport-Vassiliadis semisolid agar medium was essential for the consistent detection of Salmonella in the different lagoon effluents. Total and fecal coliform levels of up to 105-106 MPN/100 ml were detected in the final effluent. High coliphage concentrations of 103-104 pfu/ml were also found in the effluent waters. Salmonella was always detected in 100 ml samples and eventually reached an order of value of 103 MPN/100 ml. Total coliform reduction was higher in the anaerobic ponds whereas fecal coliforms were more efficiently eliminated in the facultative (mostly “anoxic”) lagoons. Coliphage reduction was higher in the facultative lagoons when compared to the anaerobic ponds. On many occasions, no reduction or eventual increment of the concentration of salmonellae was detected in the effluents from the anaerobic ponds compared to concentrations of the patohogen in the influent raw wasterwaters. The possibility exists for a capacity of Salmonella to multiply in the anoxic phase of the wastewater treatment, but the presence of microorganisms in raw sewage waters which could maskSalmonella detection with the enrichment methodology employed cannot be ruled out.

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