Risk-Based Evaluation of Improvements in Drinking Water Treatment Using Cost-Benefit Analysis
Journal article, 2022
Reliable and safe drinking water supply requires adequate risk management. Decision support models can aid decisionmakers to effectively evaluate risk mitigation measures and allocate societal resources. Here, a Swedish case study illustrates how the installation of ultrafiltration membranes can be evaluated by combining risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis. Quantitative microbial risk assessment was used to assess several contamination sources and estimate the achieved risk reduction from waterborne pathogens using Campylobacter, Norovirus, and Cryptosporidium as reference pathogens. The societal value of the improved water quality was estimated in the cost-benefit analysis by monetising the gained quality adjusted life years and aesthetic water quality improvements. The calculated net present value (mean of 7 MEUR) indicated that the installation of the ultrafiltration membranes was a sound investment from a societal economic perspective. The ultrafiltration membranes reduced the annual probability of infection from 3 × 10−2 to 10−7, well below the U.S. EPA’s acceptable level, as well as improving the aesthetic quality of the drinking water. The results provide a novel example of the importance for water distributors to consider not only health-related metrics when evaluating treatment options or monitoring the drinking water quality, but to also consider the aesthetic quality of the drinking water.
Quality adjusted life years (QALY)
Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)
Willingness to pay (WTP)
Drinking water quality
Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA)