This research was conducted to assess the impact of various disinfectants on bacterial water quality within model distribution systems (i.e. annular reactors). After colonization with non-disinfected water, annular reactors were treated with relatively low doses of chlorine (0.4 mg/l), chlorine dioxide (0.15 mg/l), or chloramines (0.9 mg/l). Under the tested conditions, bacterial inactivation varied as a function of disinfectant type (ranking by efficiency per mg of oxidant: ClO2 > Cl2 > ClNH2) and sample type (bulk water vs. biofilm). Depending on the disinfectant, the log inactivation of suspended and attached bacteria were 0.7–1.2 and 0.5–1.0, respectively. The characterization of microbial communities in drinking water can be performed using biochemical and/or molecular methods. In this study, biochemical tests were used, showing that pseudomonad and pseudomonad-like bacteria, as in other studies, were the most predominant micro-organisms (e.g. Pseudomonas fluorescens, Brevundimonas vescularis). The ratio Gram-positive to Gram-negative organisms was 1 to 3. No drastic differences were observed between the non-treated and disinfected pipes. Based on the bacteriological data presented in these experiments, chlorine dioxide represents an alternative to chlorine for certain distribution systems.