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Real-Time Determination of the Efficacy of Residual Disinfection to Limit Wastewater Contamination in a Water Distribution System Using Filtration-Based Luminescence

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Water distribution systems can be vulnerable to microbial contamination through cross-connections, wastewater backflow, the intrusion of soiled water after a loss of pressure resulting from an electricity blackout, natural disaster, or intentional contamination of the system in a bioterrrorism event. The most urgent matter a water treatment utility would face in this situation is detecting the presence and extent of a contamination event in real-time, so that immediate action can be taken to mitigate the problem. The current approved microbiological detection methods are culture-based plate count methods, which require incubation time (1 to 7 days). This long period of time would not be useful for the protection of public health. This study was designed to simulate wastewater intrusion in a water distribution system. The objectives were 2-fold: (1) real-time detection of water contamination, and (2) investigation of the sustainability of drinking water systems to suppress the contamination with secondary disinfectant residuals (chlorine and chloramine). The events of drinking water contamination resulting from a wastewater addition were determined by filtration-based luminescence assay. The water contamination was detected by luminescence method within 5 minutes. The signal amplification attributed to wastewater contamination was clear—102-fold signal increase. After 1 hour, chlorinated water could inactivate 98.8% of the bacterial contaminant, while chloraminated water reduced 77.2%.

Keywords: chloramine; chlorine; luminescence; wastewater contamination; water distribution system

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-05-01

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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