• Project No 1103
  • Project Name Smart monitoring for microbial risk assessment
  • Lead Organisation SA Water
  • Research Lead AWQC
  • Main Researcher Brendon King
  • Completion Year 2022

Project Description

One reason catchment water is treated to make drinking water is because it contains unwanted microscopic organisms. Water treatment plant operators choose the best way to destroy these unwanted microbial pathogens, and their decisions are usually based on information from two sources: sanitary surveys and E. coli monitoring. The problem is that sometimes these two methods indicate different water treatment regimens; a situation that triggers additional expensive environmental monitoring to resolve the conflict. This project commences the establishment of a cheaper, alternative environmental monitoring method which is based on the knowledge that all vertebrate animals (including people), excrete cells that contain DNA; their own cells, as well as pathogen cells. The new method will examine cell-enclosed DNA extracted from water samples, and provide detailed information about the species of animals and pathogens living in the catchment. If this project finds that water sample DNA-sequencing is reproducible and reliable, development will continue because this method has the potential to be more cost-effective than existing environmental monitoring. It also has the added advantage of providing better information that will improve the decision-making processes needed to produce clean, safe drinking water.