Production of drinking water from river water, abstracted either directly from river or from storage reservoirs, requires the application of barriers for pathogenic micro-organisms. About one third of the total production of drinking water in the Netherlands is derived from surface water, mainly the River Meuse and branches of the River Rhine. The results of extensive monitoring programmes show that the microbiological water quality of the River Rhine and River Meuse is strongly influenced by domestic and agricultural waste water discharges, with respect to the River Meuse mainly in the Liège-region in Belgium. Densities of Cryptosporidium and Giardia in both rivers are comparable; the highest density was found in the Belgian Meuse basin. Elimination rates of 1.7- to 3.1 10log-units for pathogenic micro-organisms were found in Dutch storage reservoirs, which can thus be considered as an important first barrier for pathogenic microorganisms. The elimination capacity of reservoirs is influenced by retention time and contamination by waterfowl. To meet the proposed quality criteria for pathogens in drinking water, however, additional barriers are required.

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