Bacterial Load Consistency Among Three Independent Water Distribution Systems

(1) Lowell High School, Lowell, Massachusetts

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Clean drinking water is an essential component to maintaining public health. Methods used to purify drinking water include the addition of disinfectants, chemical methods of control, such as ozone or ultraviolet radiation, and physical methods of control, such as filtration. Disinfectants and filtration are the most widely used methods to ensure high-quality drinking water. However these methods do not sterilize the water, and there are still concerns as to whether or not some methods are better than others at reducing bacterial loads. This study tested water from traditional drinking fountains, Poland Springs® water cooler dispensers, and from Halsey-Taylor Filtered Single HAC Coolers with Hydroboost® Bottle Fillers. Water samples were collected from each source types on various days, plated onto Nutrient agar, and analyzed to count CFUs/mL for each source. We found that there is no statistical difference in the mean bacterial CFUs/mL among the three water sources tested. We conclude that among samples tested, no one water source is superior to the others in terms of bacterial load. The continued application of studies like this one to available water sources may inform consumers on whether certain water sources have healthier bacterial compositions than others. Should differences exist, these studies could inform consumers on how to better attain high-quality drinking water.

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water purification bacteria chemistry