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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 Dec;7(12):4179-202. doi: 10.3390/ijerph7124179. Epub 2010 Dec 10.

New perspectives in monitoring drinking water microbial quality.

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  • 1Unit of Microbiology, School of Medicine, IISPV, Universitat Rovira i Virigili, Sant Llorenç 21, 43201-Reus, Spain. mariajose.figueras@urv.cat


The safety of drinking water is evaluated by the results obtained from faecal indicators during the stipulated controls fixed by the legislation. However, drinking-water related illness outbreaks are still occurring worldwide. The failures that lead to these outbreaks are relatively common and typically involve preceding heavy rain and inadequate disinfection processes. The role that classical faecal indicators have played in the protection of public health is reviewed and the turning points expected for the future explored. The legislation for protecting the quality of drinking water in Europe is under revision, and the planned modifications include an update of current indicators and methods as well as the introduction of Water Safety Plans (WSPs), in line with WHO recommendations. The principles of the WSP approach and the advances signified by the introduction of these preventive measures in the future improvement of drinking water quality are presented. The expected impact that climate change will have in the quality of drinking water is also critically evaluated.


European drinking water directive; WSP; climate change; drinking water quality; indicator microorganisms

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