WERF Seeks Proposals for Pathogen Risk Assessments of Biosolids

On Sept. 27, the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) announced that proposals are being accepted for research addressing pathogen risk assessments of biosolids and the effective communication of results.

WERF anticipates funding of approximately $250,000 to $500,000 for the first year of research. Due to the scope of this challenge, estimates for the total cost, over a multi-year period, are estimated at up to $1 million. WERF wants this research to facilitate use of biosolids pathogens risk assessment methodologies for the purpose of making them generally applicable and available to potential users at the local, state and national level. A complementary activity will be to ensure that the best risk communications science and practices are available to communicate the results.

WERF has worked with its subscribers to identify and prioritize their top challenges and plans to establish a flexible and adaptive relationship with individual researchers and research teams. This request for proposals (RFP) is different from some WERF RFPs in the past as it is not soliciting a single project for a set period of time for a set cost. Instead, this RFP identifies an overall goal and suggests some key milestones to focus the research efforts.

"Meeting regulatory requirements for land application practices may no longer be enough to ensure the continued beneficial use of biosolids. Because of the heightened public scrutiny that land-application projects often face, WERF feels it is important to refine the tools that will allow utilities, land appliers, regulators, and local public administrators to more readily assess the relative risks associated with pathogens in biosolids and effectively communicate the results," said Dan Woltering, director of Research at WERF.

The goal of this research program is to incorporate advancements in pathogen risk assessment and communications made over the past 10 years into available methodologies. Demonstrations of method applicability, including the development and testing of a user-friendly interface that allows data to be readily input, are needed in order to put such a pathogen risk assessment approach into common practice. A complementary and equally important aspect is to bring forward and further develop the best risk communications science and practices that are relevant to this topic.

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