Increasing use of reclaimed wastewater (RW) for replenishing urban landscape ponds has aroused public concern about the water quality. Three ponds replenished with RW in three cities in China were chosen to investigate 22 indexes of water quality in five categories. This was achieved by comparing three pairs of ponds in the three different cities, where one pond in each pair was replenished with RW and the other with surface water (SW). The nutrients condition, heavy metal concentration and ecotoxicity did not differ significantly between RW- and SW-replenished ponds. By contrast, significant differences were observed in algal growth and pathogen risk. RW ponds presented a Cyanophyta-Chlorophyta-Bacillariophyta type with high algal diversity while SW ponds presented a Cyanophyta type with low diversity. Regrowth of bacterial pathogens and especially survival of viral pathogens in RW, was the main driver behind the higher risk for RW ponds compared with SW ones. The duration of RW replenishment was proved to have a marked impact on the algal growth and pathogen risk. With continued RW replenishment, non-dominant algal species subjected to decrease while dominant species were enhanced resulting in the biomass increasing but diversity declining, and the risk posed by viral pathogens might become greater.
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