Jump to Main Content
Sustainability of Water Reclamation: Long-Term Recharge with Reclaimed Wastewater Does Not Enhance Antibiotic Resistance in Sediment Bacteria
- Jean E. McLain, Clinton F. Williams
- Sustainability 2014 v.6 no.3 pp. 1313-1327
- Enterococcus, antibiotic resistance, basins, ciprofloxacin, environmental exposure, environmental impact, erythromycin, groundwater, irrigated soils, lincomycin, multiple drug resistance, public health, sediments, soil bacteria, wastewater, wastewater irrigation, water reuse, Arizona
- Wastewater reclamation for municipal irrigation is an increasingly attractive option for extending water supplies. However, public health concerns include the potential for development of antibiotic resistance (AR) in environmental bacteria after exposure to residual pharmaceuticals in reclaimed water. Though scientific studies have reported high levels of AR in soils irrigated with wastewater, these works often fail to address the soil resistome, or the natural occurrence of AR. This study compared AR patterns in sediment Enterococcus isolated from water storage basins containing either reclaimed water or groundwater in central Arizona. Resistance to 16 antibiotics was quantified in isolates to a depth of 30 cm. Results reveal high levels of resistance to certain antibiotics, including lincomycin, ciprofloxacin, and erythromycin, exists in sediments regardless of the water source (groundwater, reclaimed water), and higher AR was not detectable in reclaimed water sediments. Furthermore, multiple-antibiotic-resistance (MAR) was substantially reduced in isolates from reclaimed water sediments, compared to freshwater sediment isolates. Comparing the development of AR in sediment bacteria at these two sites will increase awareness of the environmental and public health impacts of using reclaimed water for irrigation of municipal areas, and illustrates the necessity for control sites in studies examining AR development in environmental microbiota.