Temporally dense monitoring of pathogen occurrence at four drinking-water well sites – Insights and Implications

Water Research
By: , and 



Yearlong, event based, microbiological and chemical sampling was conducted at four public water supply well sites spanning a range of geologic settings and well depths to look for correlation between precipitation events and microbial occurrence. Near-continuous monitoring using autosamplers occurred just before, during, and after 5–7 sampling events triggered by rainfall and/or snowmelt. Microbial genetic material was noted at all four locations during all but one sampling event, but was exceedingly variable in time, where one sample would have no detections and the next sample could be a relatively high concentration. The highest microbial sums (microbial concentrations summed over an event) were observed during months in which precipitation exceeded historical averages. Extended wet conditions through the spring thaw resulted in the highest percentage of microbial positive samples, though at relatively low concentrations. Sampling events that followed drier than normal periods showed longer lag times between the onset of precipitation and microbial occurrence, as well as lower microbial detection rates. Although a general lag time pattern was observed at each site, the largest offset in time was observed at the site with the greatest depth to water. The study's temporally dense representation of drinking water pathogen characterization suggests that single event or infrequent periodic sampling of a drinking water supply cannot provide a representative characterization of the probability that pathogens are present, which likely has ramifications for calculating health risk assessments.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Temporally dense monitoring of pathogen occurrence at four drinking-water well sites – Insights and Implications
Series title Water Research
DOI 10.1016/j.watres.2024.121809
Volume 259
Year Published 2024
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Wisconsin Water Science Center, Upper Midwest Water Science Center
Description 121809, 11 p.
Country United States
State Minnesota
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