The influence of residence time of reclaimed water within water distribution systems on microbial water quality was evaluated in two wastewater reclamation facilities in southern Arizona over a 15-month period. These utilities differed in age, geographic location, means of treatment, and disinfection (i.e. UV versus chlorine). At both facilities, samples were collected from the point of compliance (POC) directly after disinfection, and at discrete locations with increasing distance from the POC. Following entry into reclaimed water distribution systems, overall microbial water quality decreased rapidly due to microbial regrowth. However, following such regrowth, microbial concentrations remained relatively constant. Water-based opportunistic pathogens (Legionella, Mycobacterium, and Aeromonas) were frequently detected in both reclaimed water systems. In contrast, waterborne indicators such as Escherichia coli and Enterococcus were rarely detected, and only at low concentrations. These dates suggest the need for new indicators of water-based pathogens to be developed. Rechlorination in one of the distribution systems only reduced the concentration of bacteria temporarily due to rapid dissipation of chlorine, and subsequent regrowth of both water-based pathogens and indicators. Amoebic activity was detected in approximately one-third of all samples tested from both utilities, but was not correlated with either water-based pathogens or indicators.

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