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AMR Risk Management

Applying risk assessment through Bayesian network models to facilitate AMR management in wastewater services, receiving waters, water reuse and uses of biosolids/composts.

The challenge

Managing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a complex One Health challenge with broad implications. The One Health concept recognises the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and interdependent. While the danger of AMR to human health in healthcare settings is well known, the One Health link means that AMR also poses a threat to Australia’s agricultural markets and economies, its safe food supply, and associated aquatic environments.

Drug- and pesticide-resistant microbes spread through water, animal feedstocks, livestock wastes, horticultural runoff and the receiving waters used in plant and animal production and human recreational activities. Because the agribusiness, food and environmental sectors are linked via water and their circular economies, how one industry tackles AMR affects the productivity, safety and reputation of all industries.

To address this complexity, a systems thinking approach is vital to optimise synergies across sectors while minimising unintended consequences.

About the project

This project will prioritise AMR risk pathways and provide management targets and mitigation options to aid the control of AMR risks across the One Health spectrum, both for SAAFE partners and the broader regulatory community.

Identifying critical AMR control points – and their inter-relationships – will enable the evaluation of possible control options and associated economic ramifications. This research starts by mapping the relationships from antimicrobial uses through water and food production systems to identify key factors that influence AMR in the environment.

Using expert elicitation to map out AMR pathways, influence diagrams will be captured within Bayesian networks to simulate impacts across sectors for different management options. This approach will also be used to identify potential control parameters for water, biosolids and compost usage across various community, horticultural and animal sectors.

Our models will use qualitative and quantitative data, including information from other research projects in the SAAFE Monitoring, Analytics and Solutions programs. Data will be mined using machine-learning algorithms in Bayesian models. This will help us identify research and data needs and develop and prioritise effective AMR management strategies across the SAAFE research programs.

The outcomes of this project will also inform improved communication efforts to address the multifaceted challenges posed by environmental AMR.

What the project aims to achieve

  • Prioritising AMR determinants (chemicals, genes and microorganisms) that may need to be controlled in water and food production systems
  • Identifying potential AMR control targets for sewage treatment, recreational waters, water reuse, and uses for compost and biosolids
  • Understanding where and how different management options impact AMR hotspots and costs for different control options

Who will benefit

Water quality managers, plant and animal production entities, regulators, health agencies


4 years

Project lead

Water Research Australia (WaterRA) is an independent collaborative research hub that delivers water research, innovation and capability to support public health and safeguard the sustainability of Australia’s water sources.

Project partners

University of South Australia, WEHI, University of Queensland, University of Technology Sydney