Waterborne Pathogens in Distribution and Premise Plumbing Systems

Jun 6, 2019

Due to potential public health implications, exposure to pathogens via drinking water supplies is a growing and important issue for the water industry. In recent years, outbreaks in surface water systems have decreased due to new regulations and improved treatment efficacy. However, outbreaks caused by microbial contamination of water distribution systems and premise plumbing are increasing. Opportunistic pathogens pose a complex challenge that cannot be addressed solely by water utilities using traditional control approaches. Research efforts are needed to fill the remaining knowledge gaps to advance understanding of opportunistic pathogens in distribution and plumbing systems. In 2015, WRF approved this Focus Area to generate knowledge for the water community to address the public health challenge posed by waterborne pathogens and develop improved monitoring and control strategies in systems.

 

Focus Area Objectives

  1. Understand the factors governing the proliferation of waterborne pathogens.
  2. Develop best practices for risk management.
  3. Formulate effective communication strategies.

 

Focus Area Project Timeline and Value

Customer Messaging on Plumbing Issues

  • Timeline: 2016–2018
  • Total Project Value: $220,000
  • Focus Area Objectives: Communications

Method(s) for Detecting and Differentiating Opportunistic Premise Plumbing Pathogens (OPPPs) to Determine Efficacy of Control and Treatment Technologies

  • Timeline: 2017–2019
  • Total Project Value: TBD
  • Focus Area Objectives: Proliferation Factors

Advancing Understanding of Microbiomes in DW Distribution Systems & Premise Plumbing Using Meta-omics Techniques

  • Timeline: 2017–2018
  • Total Project Value: TBD
  • Focus Area Objectives: Proliferation Factors, Management

Appropriate Sampling and Monitoring Strategies for Opportunistic Pathogens in Drinking Water Distribution Systems

  • Timeline: 2018–2020
  • Total Project Value: TBD
  • Focus Area Objectives: Management

Future Project: Screening & Confirmatory Strain Identification for Key Environmental Legionella Pneumophilia Strains

  • Timeline: 2019–2021
  • Total Project Value: TBD
  • Focus Area Objectives: Proliferation Factors

Future Project: Operational/Design Considerations for Controlling Opportunistic Pathogens in Hot Water Heaters & Premise Plumbing

  • Timeline: 2020–2022
  • Total Project Value: TBD
  • Focus Area Objectives: Management

Future Project: Risk-Based Exposure Model for Pathogenic Legionella in Premise Plumbing (Phase  1)

  • Timeline: 2020–2022
  • Total Project Value: TBD
  • Focus Area Objectives: Proliferation Factors

Future Project: Risk-Based Exposure Model for Pathogenic Legionella in Premise Plumbing (Phase 2)

  • Timeline: 2021–2022
  • Total Project Value: TBD
  • Focus Area Objectives: Proliferation Factors

Cumulative Project Value for Focus Area (to date): $220,000

 

Projects Funded Outside of the Focus Area Program that meet a Focus Area Objective

Management of Emerging Pathogens Associated with Distribution Systems and Premise Plumbing

  • Year Completed: 2016
  • Funding Program: EO
  • FA Objectives: Characterization

Optimizing Filter Backwashing Practices to Reduce Selection for Opportunistic Pathogens in Drinking Water 

  • Year Completed: 2020
  • Funding Program: TC
  • FA Objectives: Management

 

Key

EO = Emerging Opportunities

TC = Tailored Collaboration

Project Status

Year Initiated: 2015

Year Completed: Ongoing

 

TAC Members

Zia Bukhari, American Water

Paul Rochelle, MWD

Mark Rogers, EPA

Claressa Lucas, CDC

Gary Burlingame, Philadelphia Water

Jessica Edwards-Brandt, DC Water