The decimal elimination capacity (DEC) of slow sand filtration (SSF) for Cryptosporidium parvum was assessed to enable quantitative microbial risk analysis of a drinking water production plant. A mature pilot plant filter of 2.56 m2 was loaded with C. parvum oocysts and two other persistent organisms as potential surrogates; spores of Clostridium perfringens (SCP) and the small-sized (4–7 μm) centric diatom (SSCD) Stephanodiscus hantzschii. Highly persistent micro-organisms that are retained in slow sand filters are expected to accumulate and eventually break through the filter bed. To investigate this phenomenon, a dosing period of 100 days was applied with an extended filtrate monitoring period of 150 days using large-volume sampling. Based on the breakthrough curves the DEC of the filter bed for oocysts was high and calculated to be 4.7 log. During the extended filtrate monitoring period the spatial distribution of the retained organisms in the filter bed was determined. These data showed little risk of accumulation of oocysts in mature filters most likely due to predation by zooplankton. The DEC for the two surrogates, SCP and SSCD, was 3.6 and 1.8 log, respectively.\ud \ud On basis of differences in transport behaviour, but mainly because of the high persistence compared to the persistence of oocysts, it was concluded that both spores of sulphite-reducing clostridia (incl. SCP) and SSCD are unsuited for use as surrogates for oocyst removal by slow sand filters. Further research is necessary to elucidate the role of predation in Cryptosporidium removal and the fate of consumed oocysts
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