Secondary water supply systems (SWSSs) refer to the in-building infrastructures (e.g., water storage tanks) used to supply water pressure beyond the main distribution systems. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of SWSSs on microbial community structure and the occurrence of opportunistic pathogens, the latter of which are an emerging public health concern. Higher numbers of bacterial 16S rRNA genes, Legionella and mycobacterial gene markers were found in public building taps served by SWSSs relative to the mains, regardless of the flushing practice (P < 0.05). In residential buildings, genes of L. pneumomhila, Acanthamoeba and Vermamoeba vermiformis were primarily detected in tanks and taps compared to the mains. Long water retention time, warm temperature and loss of disinfectant residuals promoted microbial growth and colonization of potential pathogens in SWSSs. Varied levels of microbial community shifts were found in different types of SWSSs during water transportation from the distribution main to taps, highlighting the critical role of SWSSs in shaping the drinking water microbiota. Overall, the results provided insight to factors that might aid in controlling pathogen proliferation in real-world water systems using SWSSs.
Water Research – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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