Inter-Laboratory Fecal Source Identification Comparison Study, which involves the evaluation of 39 microbial source-tracking methods by 29 laboratories (Shanks 2011).
To maximize the benefits of clean water, protect the general public, sustain water resources, and restore impaired shorelines, decision-makers will need to rely increasingly on an understanding of the long-term and short-term changes in water quality and aquatic ecosystems. The advanced science and technology are poised to play an increasingly important role in providing forecasts of effects on appropriate temporal and spatial scales. Advances could be made quickly for safe and sustainable water resources in the promotion of methodologic developments and applications in rapid and predictive monitoring; development of and investment in a safe-waters program that links genomic tools with watershed and beach-shed characterizations; continued microbial characterization of stormwater, combined sewage overflows, and wastewater; and development of and investment in innovative engineering designs to reduce pollution loads.
Example of Using Emerging Science to Address Regulatory Issues and Support Decision-Making: Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
Quantitative microbial risk assessment had its beginnings in the 1980s; it is associated with the first publication of dose—response models (Haas 1983) and is now an accepted process for addressing waterborne disease risks and management strategies (Haas et al. 1999; Medema et al. 2003). Although great strides have been made in using quantitative microbial risk assessment in EPA’s Office of Homeland Security (including leading an interagency working group and the exchange of information with CDC), EPA has yet to take a leadership role in developing the necessary databases for use in a national risk assessment of wastewater, stormwater, and recreational water.
Linking biology, mathematics, health, the environment, and policy will require substantial interdisciplinary research focused on problem-solving and systems thinking. Quantitative microbial risk assessment has been seen as an important framework for pulling science and data together and can lead to innovative work in decision science. According to the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment, “ultimately, the goal in assessing risks is to develop and implement strategies that can monitor and control the risks (or safety) and allows one to respond to emerging diseases, outbreaks and emergencies that impact the safety of water, food, air, fomites, and in general our outdoor and indoor environments” (CAMRA 2012). The framework is being promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO 2004), and the international need for data, education, and mathematical tools to assist countries around the world with the implementation of quantitative microbial risk assessment strategies is paramount. More recently, Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment (NRC 2009) called for more integration with the risk-assessment—risk-management paradigm. This approach will provide a pathway to the integration