The persistence of two model enteric virions (Bacteroides fragilis phage B40-8 and coliphage MS-2) within pipe biofilms was investigated in situ in an urban distribution system. Biofilms were allowed to develop on uPVC and stainless steel (SS) coupons in a modified Robbins' device for 70 d within a 150 mm uPVC reticulation main. Coupons were then placed in annular reactors and slug dosed with B40-8 and MS-2 phages (108 pfu/mL). Pipe water velocity, pH and free chlorine were recorded during the experimental period. Biofilms on uPVC were generally more abundant (based on total bacterial counts, HPCs, total protein and total carbohydrate). Both B40-8 and MS-2 were incorporated into biofilms formed on uPVC and SS coupons (>104 and >103 pfu/μg protein respectively) and persisted for >30 d and 6 d respectively, reflecting biofilm biomass on the two pipe surfaces. Virion loss/inactivation from biofilm followed an initial rapid phase, followed by a very slow phase representing approximately 0.01% of the original virion population. Virions, therefore, have the potential to accumulate within distribution biofilm and problems could arise when clusters of biofilm-associated enteric virions become detached from the substrata by hydrodynamic forces or sudden changes in disinfection regime.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.