Scientific Workshops and Research
You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.
November 2011 Avian Expert Workshop
EPA held an experts workshop in fall 2011 to evaluate the state-of-knowledge on the risks that avian and other wildlife fecal pollution pose to human health in U.S. recreational waters. Workshop participants also discussed the tools and data needed for evaluating those risks. Twenty-six experts from the United States and Canada participated in the workshop, representing multiple U.S. federal agencies (including the EPA), state and local government, a public research agency, academia, and consultants. The EPA held this meeting as part of a 2008 settlement agreement with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), and Los Angeles County.
The settlement agreement also requires that, by December 15, 2012, EPA evaluate whether any of the studies identified during the workshop should be performed to help EPA improve our understanding of human health risks for any future recreational water quality criteria revision. There were no specific studies identified by the workshop experts.
- Report of the Experts Scientific Workshop on Potential Human Health Risks from Exposure to Fecal Contamination from Avian and Other Wildlife Sources in Recreational Waters
- Report Appendices
February 2009 Inland Waters Expert Scientific Workshop
In February 2009 WERF hosted and EPA supported an experts workshop on inland waters in order to obtain expert input on research and analyses that could be initiated and completed by December 2010 to support the applicability of EPA's new recreational criteria to flowing fresh waters and lakes; and what longer-term research should be pursued to gain a better understanding of the health risks from recreating in inland waters as compared to marine coastal or Great Lakes waters. WERF has published a report that summarizes the proceedings and findings.
- Report on the Experts Scientific Workshop on Critical Research and Science Needs for the Development of Recreational Water Quality Criteria for Inland Waters Exit
March 2007 Expert Workshop for Input on New Recreational Water Quality Criteria
EPA's March 2007 Experts Scientific Workshop was a forum for discussion of critical research and science needs for developing new or revised recreational ambient water quality criteria. The Report of the Experts Scientific Workshop summarizes the discussion of the scientific and technical panels.
- Report of the Experts Scientific Workshop - Executive Summary (PDF) (10 pp, 76 K)
- Report of the Experts – Entire Report - Please note that the Executive Summary is separate from the rest of the report and is not included with this file (PDF) (199 pp, 800 K)
Critical Path Science Plan
The Critical Science Plan describes the overall research goals, key science questions associated with data gaps in the existing science, and the studies that EPA intends to conduct or support to develop new or revised water quality criteria for pathogens and pathogen indicators.
The Critical Path Science Plan was informed, in part, by the input on the essential research and science needs identified by 43 international and U.S. experts from academia, States, public interest groups, EPA and other federal agencies who attended a scientific workshop held by EPA in March 2007. EPA sponsored the workshop to get individual input from the greater scientific and technical community on the near-term research and science needs to develop new or revised Clean Water Act Section 304(a) criteria. All of the research activities included in the Critical Path Science Plan were identified in the Experts Report as high priority. EPA further prioritized the research activities identified by the experts so as to focus on only the studies that EPA believed could be designed, conducted and effectively incorporated into the development and publication of new or revised criteria within a reasonable time frame.
- Critical Path Science Plan (PDF) (43 pp, 493 K) (August 2007)
- Critical Path Science Plan Errata (December 2007)
The projects and activities below represent high priority research and science that EPA conducted to establish the scientific foundation for the development of new or revised recreational water quality criteria recommendations. Full descriptions of each project and others can be found in the Critical Path Science Plan.
Epidemiological studies below were part of the National Epidemiological and Environmental Assessment of Recreational Water (NEEAR).
- Review of Published Studies to Characterize Relative Risks from Different Sources of Fecal Contamination in Recreational Water (PDF) (103 pp, 2 MB)
Complete a literature review that describes the existing knowledgebase available to characterize the relative risks of human illness from various sources of fecal contamination in recreational waters
- Review of Zoonotic Pathogens in Ambient Waters (PDF) (109 pp, 2 MB)
Complete a literature review that provides a summary of information on waterborne zoonotic pathogens that come primarily from warm-blooded animals
- Report on 2009 National Epidemiologic and Environmental Assessment of Recreational Water Epidemiology Studies (PDF) (449 pp, 17 MB)
Complete an epidemiological study in marine waters impacted by urban runoff in a temperate region and tropical region
- Assessment of the Extra-Enteric Behavior of Fecal Indicator Organisms in Ambient Waters
- Rapidly measured indicators of recreational water quality and swimming-associated illness at marine beaches: a prospective cohort study Exit
Conduct epidemiological studies at POTW-impacted marine beaches in Fairhope, Alabama and Goddard, Rhode Island (P1, P2)
- Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment to Estimate Illness in Freshwater Impacted by Agricultural Animal Sources of Fecal Contamination
Conduct QMRA (based on measurements of pathogenic organisms and indicators) to estimate illness at a freshwater beach impacted by agricultural animal sources of fecal contamination (location to be determined) (P4)
- A Study of the Various Parameters that Affect the Performance of the New Rapid U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) Method for Enterococcus Detection and Comparison with Other Methods and Pathogens in Treated Wastewater Mixed with Ambient Water
Study various parameters that affect performance of qPCR signal for enterococci and compare with other methods and pathogens in treated wastewater mixed with ambient waters (enterococci, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and enterovirus) (P8)
- Sampling and Consideration of Variability (Temporal and Spatial) For Monitoring of Recreational Waters
Design and evaluate a monitoring approach that will characterize the quality of beach waters that takes into account the spatial and temporal variability associated with water sampling (P12)
- Evaluation of Multiple Indicator Combinations to Develop Quantifiable Relationships
Evaluate multiple indicator/method combinations to develop quantifiable relationships (P15)
- Effects of Holding Time, Storage, and the Preservation of Samples on Sample Integrity for the Detection of Fecal Indicator Bacteria by Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction
Study the effects of sampling holding time, sample storage, and preservation on sample integrity for future use (P16)
- Method A: Enterococci in Water by TaqMan Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) Assay (PDF) (108 pp, 8 MB)
Develop, refine, validate, and publish one or more new ambient
- Method B: Bacteroidales in Water by TaqMan Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) Assay (PDF) (111 pp, 9 MB)
develop, refine, validate, and publish one or more new wastewater test method(s) provided the results of P8 and P18 indicate that a new wastewater test method is necessary (P17)
- Evaluation of the Suitability of Individual Combinations of Indicators and Methods for Different Clean Water Act Programs (P18)
- Re-analyze archived NEEAR samples using molecular methods for other indicators, including at least E. coli, provided the samples have not degraded during storage (depending on the outcome of P16 and the nature of indicator/method) (P22) *
- Predictive Modeling at Beaches Volume II: Predictive Tools for Beach Notification (PDF) (152 pp, 5 MB)
- Pilot test Virtual Beach model for beach notification and advisories/closures (P23)
- Refine and validate existing water quality models for freshwater beach notification and advisories/closures (P24)
- Refine and validate other existing water quality models for marine beach notification and advisories/closures (P25)
- Predictive Tools for Beach Notification Volume I: Review and Technical Protocol
Develop technical protocol for site-specific application of predictive models to be used in making beach advisory decisions (P26)
- Compare EPA’s 1986 Bacteria Criteria recommendations to NEEAR studies to better understand the relationship between fecal contamination and illness in these data sets, provided EPA can obtain the raw data used to develop the 1986 Criteria (P27) *
- Applicability of Great Lakes NEEAR Dataset to Inland Recreational Water Criteria: Summary of Key Studies
Evaluate applicability of NEEAR Great Lakes data to inland waters (P28)
- Conduct statistical analysis of children data from epidemiological studies (P29)
* Projects were not completed due to contingencies identified in the Settlement Agreement.