Microbiological testing is an integral part of measures to ensure safe drinking water. However, testing can be restricted in low-resource settings by the requirement for specialized laboratory facilities and testing procedures. Precisely controlled incubation temperature is one example. The effect of varied incubation temperatures on the performance of two enzyme substrate tests for the detection of Escherichia coli and total coliforms has been examined. The aim was to determine whether these tests would provide consistent and comparable enumeration over a broader temperature range than currently specified. Recovery of chlorine-injured and wild type E. coli was examined over a range of non-standard incubation temperatures in comparison to 37 °C ± 1. Colilert® and Aquatest, a new E. coli-specific detection medium, served as the two representative enzyme substrate media. Recovery of chlorine-injured E. coli in Colilert was not impaired within the range 33–39 °C; the equivalent range in Aquatest medium was 31–43 °C. Both these tests recovered E. coli without significant loss of performance over a wider range of temperatures than currently specified.

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Supplementary data