New study finds that even the cleanest wastewater contains ‘super bacteria’

University of Minnesota research suggests that wastewater treated with standard technologies contains far greater quantities

Contacts: Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering,, (612) 626-7959
Preston Smith, University News Service,, (612) 625-0552

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (11/14/2011) —A new University of Minnesota study reveals that the release of treated municipal wastewater – even wastewater treated by the highest-quality treatment technology – can have a significant effect on the quantities of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, often referred to as “superbacteria,” in surface waters.

The study also suggests that wastewater treated using standard technologies probably contains far greater quantities of antibiotic-resistant genes, but this likely goes unnoticed because background levels of bacteria are normally much higher than in the water studied in this research.