Water Storage

Water use and quality play a large role in food contamination at all levels of the production process. Enhanced management of water use and resulting enhanced water quality levels will have large positive impacts on reducing the incidence of food contamination (Jawar and Ringler, 2009). The fresh produce industry in the UK routinely abstracts water from rivers during the winter months where precipitation is highest and stores it in reservoirs or tanks for use during the spring and summer growing seasons. Water storage is not an inherently bad practice. In fact, under optimal storage conditions, the microbial indicator and pathogen load associated with highly contaminated water can fall significantly (Barbagallo et al., 2003). Water storage should be undertaken in a manner that prevents the water from being contaminated by wildlife including birds, livestock and airborne contaminants such as dust. Many water companies consider storage a low-tech primary treatment. Furthermore, there are reports that managing surface streams and rivers by the installation of periodic reservoirs to hold back water is a beneficial practice; again, if the water is contaminated (Gannon et al. 2005). However, many of the factors already discussed for microbial contamination of surface waters such as rivers, apply if the water is stored inappropriately in unfenced reservoirs which are open to the sky. The primary concerns are surface run off from land used to farm livestock, direct contamination by livestock and wildlife (including birds and insects). 

Barbagallo, S., Brissaud, F., Cirelli, G. L., Consoli, S. and Xu, P. (2003) Modelling of bacterial removal in wastewater storage reservoir for irrigation purposes: a case study in Sicily, Italy. LONDON: I W A PUBLISHING.

Gannon,V.P.J., Duke,G.D., Thomas,J.E., VanLeeuwen,J., Byrne,J., Johnson,D., Kienzle,S.W., Little,J., Graham,T. and Selinger,B. (2005) Use of in-stream reservoirs to reduce bacterial contamination of rural watersheds. Science of the Total Environment 348, 19-31.

Jawahar,P. and Ringler,C. (2009) Water quality and food safety: a review and discussion of risks. Water Policy 11, 680-695.