Project #4721

Detecting and Differentiating Opportunistic Premise Plumbing Pathogens to Determine Efficacy of Control and Treatment Technologies

In Progress
Principal Investigator
Lutgarde Maria
Research Manager
Dr. Hyunyoung Jang
The Regents of the University of Michigan
Opportunistic Pathogens
Microbes & Pathogens


The incidence of waterborne infectious disease outbreaks attributed to opportunistic pathoges (OPs), which are not regulated by the U.S. EPA, appears to be increasing. Although many studies have surveyed premise plumbing and distribution systems for OPs, there is no unified method to monitor DW systems for all OPs of interest. This lack of unified methodology stems from differences in life cycle stages and physiologies of different OPs.

This project aims to develop methods for accurately detecting and quantifying bacterial and protozoan OPs in drinking water systems, with a particular focus on L. pneumophila, P. aeruginosa, nontuberculous mycobacteria, and Acanthamoeba spp. These four OPs represent the greatest health and economic burden posed among those occurring in premise plumbing. Additionally, they collectively encompass the physiological and ecological traits of all known OPs in premise plumbing that make their detection and quantification particularly challenging.

The research team will also develop guidelines for utilities with different levels of expertise and resources on how to implement OP monitoring. The team will also examine the effectiveness of several mitigation strategies to reduce the abundance of OPs with a focus on in-home premise plumbing modifications.