Microbial Contamination of Groundwater at Small Community Water Supplies in Finland
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The raw water quality and associations between the factors considered as threats to water safety were studied in 20 groundwater supplies in central Finland in 2002–2004. Faecal contaminations indicated by the appearance of Escherichia coli or intestinal enterococci were present in five small community water supplies, all these managed by local water cooperatives. Elevated concentrations of nutrients in raw water were linked with the presence of faecal bacteria. The presence of on-site technical hazards to water safety, such as inadequate well construction and maintenance enabling surface water to enter into the well and the insufficient depth of protective soil layers above the groundwater table, showed the vulnerability of the quality of groundwater used for drinking purposes. To minimize the risk of waterborne illnesses, the vulnerable water supplies need to be identified and appropriate prevention measures such as disinfection should be applied.
KeywordsDrinking water safety E. coli Faecal contamination Groundwater Small community water supply Water quality
Markku Lehtola and Johanna Rinta-Kanto are acknowledged for their work with the norovirus concentration. Panu Rantakokko is thanked for the humic fractions analysis and Tarja Pohjanvirta for shigatoxin analysis. Acknowledgment belongs also to Jarmo Siekkinen, who gave us water supply information essential for the study. The authors are also grateful to Prof. Marja-Liisa Hänninen for the critical reading of the manuscript. This study was supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and by the Ministry of Education (Graduate School in Environmental Health-SYTYKE).
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