Biotechnology System to Monitor the Health of Wastewater Treatment Plants

University of Colorado at Boulder, 2005 - $15,650

Water scarcity is the biggest challenge of the 21st century, and proper wastewater treatment is critical to public and environmental health because it protects and recycles the limited supply of fresh water. Throughout the world, billions of gallons of industrial and domestic sewage are treated in centralized wastewater facilities through the acceleration of natural biodegradation processes, relying on a balance of healthy microbes for optimal performance. This E-Team developed an innovative biotechnology system to monitor and diagnose common microbiological problems that interfere with the reclamation of wastewater in sewage treatment plants worldwide. Problems often result from undesired blooms of microbes, but many microbes do not yield to cultivation, the traditional method of identification. The team's DNA sequence-based technology allows microbes to be detected and identified without cultivation to determine relative quantities in a sample. Once problem microbes are identified, treatment plants can design and apply the appropriate remedy with quantitative information from the team's Biotechnology System.