Microbial purification capacity is an important factor in natural self-regulation in water. Evaluating the fate of biodegradable organic pollution downstream from the discharge seems an appropriate way to follow the effect of pollution and its hazard assessment, which dictates the needed sanitation measures. We suggest a simple test for such monitoring. A modification of the additional oxygen demand test, standardised in Ausgewählte Methoden der Wasseruntersuchung, was applied in two river case studies. The additional oxygen demand is a measure of the capability and rate of biodegradation of known organic substance as well as of the amount and activity of heterotrophic organisms in the river. The original test using peptone and glucose as additional feedings of BOD samples was modified by the use of other organic biodegradable model substances characteristic for individual industrial pollutants. The test was found to be an excellent indicator of adapted microorganisms, which are essential for the biodegradation of the appointed organic substances downstream of their discharge into the receiving stream.