Pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV) has been proposed as a potential indicator of human enteric viruses in environmental water and for viral removal during drinking water treatment. To investigate the occurrence and present forms of PMMoV and quantitative relations to norovirus GII and rotavirus A (RVA) in surface waters, 147 source water samples were collected from 21 drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs) in Japan between January 2018 and January 2021, and the concentrations of viruses in suspended and dissolved fractions were measured using real-time RT-PCR. PMMoV was detected in 81–100 % of samples in each sample month and observed concentrations ranged from 3.0 to 7.0 log10 copies/L. The concentrations of PMMoV were higher in dissolved fraction compared to suspended fractions, while different partitioning was observed for NoV GII depending on seasons. The concentrations of PMMoV were basically higher than those of norovirus GII (1.9−5.3 log10 copies/L) and RVA (1.9−6.6 log10 copies/L), while in 18 samples, RVA presented higher concentrations than PMMoV. Partial regions of VP7, VP4, and VP6 of the RVA in the 18 samples were amplified using nested PCR, and the genotypes were determined using an amplicon-based next-generation sequencing approach. We found that these source water samples included not only human RVA but also various animal RVA and high genetic diversity due to the existence of animal RVA was associated with a higher RVA concentration than PMMoV. Our findings suggest that PMMoV can be used as an indicator of norovirus GII and human RVA in drinking water sources and that the indicator performance should be evaluated by comparing to zoonotic viruses as well as human viruses.

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