In order to understand the growth of biofilm and to serve as the basis of cleaning the water distribution pipeline, this study used a multi-attachment dynamic model to simulate the growth of microorganisms' attachment to the pipe wall. The model had considered attachment, detachment, and propagating factors. The attachment and detachment factors are divided into “cell to cell” and “cell to substratum”. Factors for biofilm growth included two possibilities, which was “lateral growth” and “vertical growth”. Data set of the biofilm biomass from a laboratory scale water distribution system was measured. The data and the model simulation curves were compared so as to justify the performance of the model.
The results show that several sets of parameters could be identified. From the simulation of biofilm biomass in the pipeline, the microbial growth related with the incubation time. Due to nutrients being restricted, the biomass of biofilm in the water distribution system did not continue to grow and reached a maximum at about Day 40. From the simulation results, it was suggested the time of cleaning the water distribution pipeline be shortened to one or two months.
The model was applied to simulate the tap water biofilm in the pipeline of Kaohsiung city, the second largest in Taiwan with 1.5 million population. The results revealed various levels of risks and the proportionality between the biomass in the water and the growth rate of biofilm. However, most households had the purifying facility of a reverse osmosis system. From the simulation, the facility proved its effectiveness for preventing the intervention of bacteria from the biofilm formation in the distribution pipelines.