Direct evidence of microbiological water quality changes on bacterial quantity and community caused by plumbing system

Gang Liu , Jun Li , Anran Ren , Ed van der Mark


Received April 15, 2021,Revised , Accepted April 25, 2021, Available online January 11, 2022

Volume 34,2022,Pages 175-183

Drinking water quality deteriorates from treatment plant to customer taps, especially in the plumbing system. There is no direct evidence about what the differences are contributed by plumbing system. This study compared the water quality in the water main and at customer tap by preparing a sampling tap on the water main. The biomass was quantified by adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the microbial community was profiled by 454 pyrosequencing. The results showed that in distribution pipes, biofilm contributed >94% of the total biomass, while loose deposits showed little contribution (< 2%) because of the low amount of loose deposits. The distribution of biological stable water had minor effects on the microbiocidal water quality regarding both quantity (ATP 1 ng/L vs. 1.7 ng/L) and community of the bacteria. Whereas the plumbing system has significant contribution to the increase of active biomass (1.7 ng/L vs. 2.9 ng/L) and the changes of bacterial community. The relative abundance of Sphingomonas spp. at tap (22%) was higher than that at water main (2%), while the relative abundance of Pseudomonas spp. in tap water (15%) was lower than that in the water from street water main (29%). Though only one location was prepared and studied, the present study showed that the protocol of making sampling tap on water main offered directly evidences about the impacts of plumbing system on tap water quality, which makes it possible to distinguish and study the processes in distribution system and plumbing system separately.

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