Capturing and tracing the spatiotemporal variations of planktonic and particle-associated bacteria in an unchlorinated drinking water distribution system

Lihua Chen, Xuan Li, Walter van der Meer, Gertjan Medema, Gang Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

The aperiodic changes in the quantity and community of planktonic and particle-associated bacteria have hampered the understanding and management of microbiological water quality in drinking water distribution systems. In this study, online sampling was combined with the microbial fingerprint-based SourceTracker2 to capture and trace the spatiotemporal variations in planktonic and particle-associated bacteria in an unchlorinated distribution system. The results showed that spatially, the particle load significantly increased, while in contrast, the quantity of particle-associated bacteria decreased sharply from the treatment plant to the distribution network. Similar to the trend of particle-associated bacterial diversity, the number of observed OTUs first slightly decreased from the treatment plant to the transportation network and then sharply increased from the transportation network to the distribution network. The SourceTracker2 results revealed that the contribution of particle-associated bacteria from the treatment plant decreased along the distribution distance. The spatial results indicate the dominant role of sedimentation of particles from the treatment plant, while the observed increases in particles and the associated bacteria mainly originated from the distribution network, which were confirmed directly by the increased contributions of loose deposits and biofilm. Temporally, the daily peaks of particle-associated bacterial quantity, observed OTU number, and contributions of loose deposits and biofilms were captured during water demand peaks (e.g., 18–21 h). The temporal results reveal clear linkages between the distribution system harboring bacteria (e.g., within loose deposits and biofilms) and the planktonic and particle-associated bacteria flowing through the distribution system, which are dynamically connected and interact. This study highlights that the spatiotemporal variations in planktonic and particle-associated bacteria are valuable and unneglectable for the widely on-going sampling campaigns required by water quality regulations and/or drinking water microbiological studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118589
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Volume219
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Drinking water distribution system (DWDS)
  • Online monitoring sampling system (OMSS)
  • Planktonic and particle-associated bacteria
  • SourceTracker2
  • Spatiotemporal variations

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