onderwerp

Making regrowth of microorganisms in water manageable

Biological activity

Growth of microorganisms in (drinking) water can present risks to public health and lead to customer complaints, technical problems and exceedance of legal standards. Besides making an accurate diagnosis, KWR makes sure that microbial safety can be managed safely. This helps the drinking water sector, industry and government ensure good procedures with minimal risk.

Controlling biological activity

The presence of harmful microorganisms in water is not desirable. Opportunistic, pathogenic microorganisms like Legionella pneumophila and Pseudomonas aeruginosa constitute a threat to public health. They also threaten the image of the drinking water sector, industry and government. The growth of microorganisms and invertebrates in water can lead to customer complaints, technical problems and the exceedance of legal standards. Besides a timely signalling, there is also a need to take effective measures to control unwanted biological activity.

Overview of biological processes in drinking-water distribution system.

Overview of biological processes in drinking-water distribution system.

Example of biological activity: Legionella bacteria (red) infecting amoeba (green) (microscopic image).

Example of biological activity: Legionella bacteria (red) infecting amoeba (green) (microscopic image).

From diagnosis to effective measures

To prevent health risks arising in the distribution of safe, impeccable-quality (drinking) water, current insights are needed into the factors that stimulate microorganism growth and into how it can be controlled. Research is carried out into a variety of aspects, allowing for an accurate diagnosis and measures to manage water systems safely; these research areas include:

  • Analysis of (micro) biological activity, biological stability and processes, using effective measurement strategies (growth potential, biomass, hydrogenomics), including the translation of results into improved management measures.
  • Problem analysis of the unwanted effects of biological processes in water systems, like the spread of pathogenic microorganisms to humans and plants.
  • Definition and testing of management measures against the growth of Legionella pneumophila, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other pathogens in water environments, with the use of specific KWR-developed detection methods.
  • Optimisation of treatment processes aimed at the production of biologically stable water, and at ensuring low biological activity in the distribution system.
  • Development and application of knowledge regarding the role of mains and installations in unwanted biological activity, in collaboration with the installation branch, i.e., the industries developing and installing water supply systems or networks.
  • Understanding of biofilm growth in greenhouse horticulture water systems, and definition of measures to control biofilm growth.

The biofilm formation potential is monitored with KWR’s Continuous Biofouling Monitor every two weeks.

Knowledge leads to effective procedures

Armed with the knowledge provided by KWR, the drinking water sector, industry and government can reduce the risk of unwanted growth of microorganisms in their procedures to a minimum.