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Printer Friendly VersionSelected Information - Completed Research

CP353  New Microbiological Techniques - Assessing the Benefits for Safeguarding Water Quality Drinking Water Quality
Project Appreciation and Objectives

Considerable advances in microbial testing, driven primarily by the biomedical and food industries, provide new and exciting technology transfer opportunities for the water industry - which still largely relies on traditional approaches.

New developments promise:

  • a more rapid and precise detection of specific micro-organisms, and
  • microbial source tracking (MST) - which has the potential to discriminate between different sources of faecal contamination in the environment. Many different techniques are currently used for recreational waters but it is also being evaluated by the US Environmental Protection Agency for distribution systems.

This study provided water companies with an up-to-date and thorough evaluation of new microbiological methods and assessed their practical value for improving operational practice and supporting water quality risk-based frameworks.

Benefits to Clients

  • Provide a more rapid and reliable detection of specific micro-organisms, supporting a risk-based approach for safeguarding water quality.
  • Improve catchment management and support good operational practice when investigating drinking water supply chain incidents.
  • Discriminate between different sources of contamination in recreational waters, helping to develop effective control strategies and supporting any legal actions.

Work Programme

  1. Compile and collate information on the range of new microbiological technologies, already being used in water, food and biomedical applications. WRc will be supported in this task by David Sartory of SWM Consulting.
  2. Assess the performance characteristics of these techniques to gain a better understanding of their capabilities and limitations, and compare against current methods, using defined criteria, including; speed of response, degree of sensitivity, ease of use, and cost.
  3. Critically review the latest developments for capturing the target micro-organism, as success often depends on appropriate concentration techniques.
  4. Assess the different types of MST techniques and evaluate their powers of discrimination and their practical applicability.

Project Output

  • A final report providing an up-to-date assessment of new microbiological methods which can be applied in the current risk-based framework for managing water quality.
  • Recommendations for a practical evaluation of identified promising technology.
  • Dissemination workshop.
WRc's Portfolio Programme
Summary of the £1.5 million per annum research programme

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