Abstract

In a drinking water distribution system, little is known about the characteristics of a microbiological pollution, how it enters the system, and how it can be detected. The drinking water industry has relied on various pollution indicators, through grab sampling and laboratory analyses, revealing results long after the water has been used. To be able to react more proactively to pollution events, many drinking water distributors supplement grab sampling with proportional sampling and/or real-time sensors. We have tested the ability of a new bacteria monitor to detect four different pollution events: wastewater intrusion, rainwater runoff, resuspension of drinking water sediments, and bird droppings entering the distribution system. The monitor response, in terms of bacteria and abiotic particle concentrations, was compared with traditional laboratory methods. The results illustrate the benefits of using such real-time bacteria sensors for monitoring the dynamics of drinking water microbiology and for early warning of potential pollution events.