Combined sewage coliform bacteria are important as indicators of pathogenic microorganisms and of their possible discharge into the environment. Whilst specifying limits for viruses, most legislation recognises the difficulty of enumerating such organisms and also prescribes limits for coliforms. Despite the importance of these organisms, little is known about their numbers and behaviour in sewerage systems. A data collection programme is described which has monitored dry and wet weather sewage coliform bacteria and also sediment bacteria. These data are used to review recent UK recommendations for assessing bacteria numbers in storm discharges. It is concluded that relationships between bacteria numbers and other physical/chemical parameters may be developed during DWF, but are seasonally and catchment dependent. Extension of DWF measurements to predict storm bacteria may be possible with more data.

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