- Project No 1101
- Project Name Management of Environmental E. coli
- Lead Organisation SA Water
- Research Lead AWQC
- Main Researcher Brendon King, E. Bertone
- Completion Year 2019
E. coli bacteria naturally populate the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals; they are usually harmless and are commonly excreted. Faeces can also contain harmful microscopic pathogens, and this has led to the assumption that if harmless E. coli are found in water, that the drinking water has been contaminated with faeces that might also have contained pathogens that pose a risk to public health. Using E. coli as an indicator of faecal contamination was recently challenged by the finding that some E. coli strains live, grow and bloom in the environment, and their presence in water might not mean that the water has been contaminated with harmful pathogens. This research examined the environmental conditions associated with E. coli bloom formation in the context of climate-change adaptation and developed multiplex PCR tests which allow the identification of environmental and faecal E. coli. This information was added to a Utility Response Protocol.