Mapping Dynamics of Bacterial Communities in a Full-Scale Drinking Water Distribution System Using Flow Cytometry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Microbial monitoring of drinking water is required to guarantee high quality water and to mitigate health hazards. Flow cytometry (FCM) is a fast and robust method that determines bacterial concentrations in liquids. In this study, FCM was applied to monitor the dynamics of the bacterial communities over one year in a full-scale drinking water distribution system (DWDS), following implementation of ultrafiltration (UF) combined with coagulation at the drinking water treatment plant (DWTP). Correlations between the environmental conditions in the DWDS and microbial regrowth were observed, including increases in total cell counts with increasing retention time (correlation coefficient R = 0.89) and increasing water temperature (up to 5.24-fold increase in cell counts during summer). Temporal and spatial biofilm dynamics affecting the water within the DWDS were also observed, such as changes in the percentage of high nucleic acid bacteria with increasing retention time (correlation coefficient R = −0.79). FCM baselines were defined for specific areas in the DWDS to support future management strategies in this DWDS, including a gradual reduction of chloramine.


External organisations
  • Vatten och Miljö i Väst AB (VIVAB)
  • onCyt Microbiology AG
  • Sweden Water Research AB
  • Sydvatten AB
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Water Engineering
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 15
Publication categoryResearch