Significance and Assessment of the Biological Stability of Drinking Water

Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 5 / 5B)


Biologically-stable drinking water does not support the multiplication of micro-organisms in drinking water distribution systems. Such multiplication (regrowth) adversely affects water quality, e.g. by the presence of opportunistic pathogens, coliforms, increased heterotrophic colony counts, development of invertebrates. Disinfection is not effective against biofilms and sediments, which play a key role in regrowth, and cleaning methods are labor intensive. Regrowth therefore should be prevented by strictly limiting the concentration of compounds serving as energy sources for microorganisms. Growth measurements with selected pure bacterial cultures are used for assessing the concentration of easily assimilable organic carbon (AOC) in drinking water. Regrowth of heterotrophic bacteria is very limited in water supplies in the Netherlands at AOC concentrations below 10 µg of acetate-C equivalents per liter. The concentration of biodegradable organic carbon (BDOC), which is assessed as the reduction in DOC concentration in samples incubated with an assemblage of bacteria, did not decrease below the level of 0.2 mg/I in drinking water during distribution in Paris. Biological filtration processes are needed to remove the concentration of growth promoting compounds for obtaining biostable drinking water.


Drinking Water Water Work Biological Stability Drinking Water Distribution System Assimilable Organic Carbon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

List of Abbreviations and Symbols


adenosinetriphosphate (ng/1)


assimilable organic carbon (µg acetate C equivalents/1)


die-off rate (h−1)


biodegradable dissolved organic carbon (mg/1)


organic carbon


colony forming units


pipe diameter (internal) (m)


diluted broth agar


dissolved organic carbon (mg/1)


granular activated carbon


substrate saturation constant (µg C/1)


maximum colony count (CFU/ml)


Reynolds number (dimensionless)


substrate concentration (µg C/l)


substrate concentration at which net growth rate equals zero (threshold substrate concentration) (µg C/l)


growth rate (h−1)


maximum growth rate (h−1)


flow rate (m/s)


kinematic viscosity of water (m2/s)


bacterial growth yield (CFU/µg C)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KIWA N.V. Research and ConsultancyNieuwegeinThe Netherlands

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