In-situ fluorescence spectroscopy is a more rapid and resilient indicator of faecal contamination risk in drinking water than faecal indicator organisms

Sorensen, James P.R.; Nayebare, Jacintha; Carr, Andrew F.; Lyness, Robert; Campos, Luiza C.; Ciric, Lena; Goodall, Tim; Kulabako, Robinah; Rushworth Curran, Catherine M.; MacDonald, Alan M. ORCID:; Owor, Michael; Read, Daniel S.; Taylor, Richard G.. 2021 In-situ fluorescence spectroscopy is a more rapid and resilient indicator of faecal contamination risk in drinking water than faecal indicator organisms. Water Research, 206, 117734. 11, pp.

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Faecal indicator organisms (FIOs) are limited in their ability to protect public health from the microbial contamination of drinking water because of their transience and time required to deliver a result. We evaluated alternative rapid, and potentially more resilient, approaches against a benchmark FIO of thermotolerant coliforms (TTCs) to characterise faecal contamination over 14 months at 40 groundwater sources in a Ugandan town. Rapid approaches included: in-situ tryptophan-like fluorescence (TLF), humic-like fluorescence (HLF), turbidity; sanitary inspections; and total bacterial cells by flow cytometry. TTCs varied widely in six sampling visits: a third of sources tested both positive and negative, 50% of sources had a range of at least 720 cfu/100 mL, and a two-day heavy rainfall event increased median TTCs five-fold. Using source medians, TLF was the best predictor in logistic regression models of TTCs ≥10 cfu/100 mL (AUC 0.88) and best correlated to TTC enumeration (ρs 0.81), with HLF performing similarly. Relationships between TLF or HLF and TTCs were stronger in the wet season than the dry season, when TLF and HLF were instead more associated with total bacterial cells. Source rank-order between sampling rounds was considerably more consistent, according to cross-correlations, using TLF or HLF (min ρs 0.81) than TTCs (min ρs 0.34). Furthermore, dry season TLF and HLF cross-correlated more strongly (ρs 0.68) than dry season TTCs (ρs 0.50) with wet season TTCs, when TTCs were elevated. In-situ TLF or HLF are more rapid and resilient indicators of faecal contamination risk than TTCs.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0043-1354
Additional Keywords: tryptophan-like fluorescence, humic-like fluorescence, coliforms, microbial contamination, groundwater, indicator, groundwaterBGS
NORA Subject Terms: Electronics, Engineering and Technology
Date made live: 26 Oct 2021 14:52 +0 (UTC)

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