Characterising and understanding the impact of microbial biofilms and the extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) matrix in drinking water distribution systems
Drinking water quality deteriorates during transportation through drinking water distribution systems (DWDS). Microbial activity and ecology, particularly within biofilms that occur on the inner-pipe surface of DWDS, are emerging as important drivers in the degradation process. Yet, we have little real-world applicable understanding of the DWDS biofilms. This paper provides a critical discussion of current drinking water biofilm research, highlighting the importance of biofilms, including the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and their interactions with the physico-chemical environment. Evidence is presented that the tools for biofilm analysis are becoming more accessible and there is now the opportunity to translate microbial research from idealised bench-top settings to practical real-world applications. It is essential that we understand biofilms and manage them within ageing, deteriorating DWDS infrastructure to protect public health and wellbeing.
- This article is part of the themed collections: Drinking Water Exposome and Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology 2016 Most Downloaded Articles