Water Research 38 (2004) 601–610
Removal of soft deposits from the distribution systemimproves the drinking water quality
Markku J. Lehtola
*, Tarja K. Nissinen
, Ilkka T. Miettinen
,Pertti J. Martikainen
, Terttu Vartiainen
Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology, National Public Health Institute, P.O. Box 95, Kuopio 70701, Finland
Laboratory of Chemistry, National Public Health Institute, P.O. Box 95, Kuopio 70701, Finland
Department of Environmental Sciences, Bioteknia 2, University of Kuopio, P.O. Box 1627, Kuopio 70211, Finland
Received 20 September 2002; received in revised form 23 October 2003; accepted 30 October 2003
Deterioration in drinking water quality in distribution networks represents a problem in drinking water distribution.These can be an increase in microbial numbers, an elevated concentration of iron or increased turbidity, all of whichaffect taste, odor and color in the drinking water. We studied if pipe cleaning would improve the drinking water qualityin pipelines. Cleaning was arranged by ﬂushing the pipes with compressed air and water. The numbers of bacteria andthe concentrations of iron and turbidity in drinking water were highest at 9 p.m., when the water consumption washighest. Soft deposits inside the pipeline were occasionally released to bulk water, increasing the concentrations of iron,bacteria, microbially available organic carbon and phosphorus in drinking water. The cleaning of the pipeline decreasedthe diurnal variation in drinking water quality. With respect to iron, only short-term positive effects were obtained.However, removing of the nutrient-rich soft deposits did decrease the microbial growth in the distribution systemduring summer when there were favorable warm temperatures for microbial growth. No Norwalk-like viruses orcoliform bacteria were detected in the soft deposits, in contrast to the high numbers of heterotrophic bacteria.
2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Drinking water; Distribution system; Bacteria; Nutrient; Iron; Pipe cleaning; Bioﬁlm
The quality of drinking water leaving from water-works usually meets the standards for chemical andmicrobiological quality. However, there are oftenmicrobiological and chemical changes which deterioratethe water quality within the distribution networks. Ironpipes are commonly used in drinking water distributionsystems. Iron corrosion products may cause taste andcolor in the drinking water and may can also induce achemical decay of the residual chlorine[1,2].In a drinking water distribution system, the number of microbes in water generally increases. Detachment of bacteria from bioﬁlms has accounted for most of theplanktonic cells present in drinking water. Softdeposits and bioﬁlms in drinking water pipelines havebeen found to consist mostly of bacteria, includingpathogenic microbes, which can also be present indrinking water distribution networks[3,5,6].Finnish waterworks generally clean the pipelines,because of taste, odor and color problems. In old iron
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AOC, Assimilable organic carbon; AOC
,Assimilable organic carbon analyzed with addition of inorganicnutrients; CFU/ml, Colony forming units per milliliter; FTU,Formazine turbidity unit; HPC, Heterotrophic plate counts;MAP, Microbially available phosphorus; NLV, Norwalk-likevirus; NOX,
NOX bacteria strain; P17,
P17 bacteria strain; TOC, Total organic carbon*Corresponding author. Tel.: +358-17-201371; fax: +358-17-201155.
markku.lehtola@ktl.ﬁ (M.J. Lehtola).0043-1354/$-see front matter
2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.watres.2003.10.054