Antibiotic resistance in the water cycle

Presenting the results from the HyReKA research project

The closing event of the joint project HyReKA that TZW is involved in, took place on 3 and 4 April 2019. High numbers of attendees demonstrated the exceptional interest in the topic. The participating project partners used the testing to identify and evaluate hazard areas in waste water treatment plants, animal fattening farms, abattoirs, and hospitals. The results make it possible to derive recommendations for action and solutions for politics, domestic water management, hygiene and environmental management and agriculture.

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Martin Exner, project manager of the research alliance, stated: “Certain hospital waste water needs to be classified as highly infectious based on the evidenced pathogen concentrations. The waste water system starts at the toilets and siphons in the patient rooms, and negative feedback from these components to humans cannot be excluded. New preventative measures to protect patients, staff and visitors must be taken to minimise this risk.”

In this project, TZW is focusing on water bodies that are used for drinking water supply. “No risk to drinking water is expected at present, if the recognised technical rules are followed and drinking water complies the legal hygienic-microbiological requirements” concludes Prof. Dr. Andreas Tiehm, Head of the Microbiology and Molecular Biology department at TZW. Nevertheless, the results show that the environment plays a key role in the spread of antibiotic resistance. However, a better database is also needed to determine the current situation and the medium to long-term developments as well as to verify the assessment of the situation.

The increased exchange of information between science, the nationwide and state users of the research results and the stakeholders of water management was an important part of the final conference. For this reason, the presented results were discussed with the attending experts, federal state representatives and the interested public. The results of HyReKA are being incorporated in new recommendations and directives to reduce the further spread of antibiotic resistance.

TZW will continue to address the topic of antibiotic resistance in the water cycle. A DVGW-funded project on the development of valid methods to detect resistances started in February (EVA, W201830).

Prof. Dr. Andreas Tiehm, Tel.: +49 721 9678-137, Send e-mail
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Claudia Stange, Tel.: +49 721 9678-134, Send e-mail