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Water Res. 2001 Aug;35(11):2677-82.

Determination of nutrients limiting biofilm formation and the subsequent impact on disinfectant decay.

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Australian Water Technologies--Environment, Science and Technology, NSW.


Understanding the contribution of both organic and inorganic nutrients to biofilm development and the subsequent impact of developed biofilms on disinfectant decay are important requirements for distribution system management strategies. Nutrient limitation may be one way to control biofilm development without increasing disinfectant dosing. Little is known, however, of the nutrient requirements of biofilms in distribution systems. Indeed, the effects on biofilm development due to the addition of nutrients to distribution systems and what impact biofilm development may have on disinfectant decay is still poorly understood. This study used annular reactors to determine the nutrients limiting for biofilm development in drinking water from two different Sydney sources and the subsequent effects of biofilm development on disinfectant decay. It was found that biofilm development in Sydney water was limited by organic carbon and that biofilm development promoted chloramine decay. Moreover, biofilm development occurred in the presence of chloramine. The ability of biofilms to respond to increases in disinfectant concentrations was dependent on the biomass of the biofilms. In a comparative study using chlorinated drinking water containing very low levels of organic carbon, biofilm development was not detected. Removal of organic carbon resulted in greater persistence of chlorine, which led to greater biofilm control. It was also shown that biofilms could contribute cells to the aqueous phase. The results of the study indicate that treatment and system management strategies should incorporate organic carbon removal to limit biofilm development through a combination of retarding bacterial growth and enhancing disinfectant persistence.

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