LuminUltra’s line of 2nd Generation ATP test kits is the first line of defence against uncontrolled growth in water distribution systems. In less than 10 minutes, the level of microbial activity can be determined for sessile and planktonic samples, even while working in the field. So whether you are a water manager for a utility or commercial building this information can help you:
- Monitor raw water and adjust treatment in real-time,
- Quickly audit entire distributions systems to identify sources of contamination,
- Manage maintenance programs such as line and well flushing,
- Optimize disinfection,
- Monitor water quality in tanks, reservoirs and at booster stations.
North America’s water infrastructure continues to age and demand for rehabilitation and repair is increasing. Bacteria can be introduced into a distribution system through cracks, pits or long residence times. Once biofilms are established, they are extremely difficult to remove. Small portions can slough off distributing microorganisms to other parts of the system. Furthermore, biofilms can neutralize disinfectant residuals making it harder to control growth.
Conventional tests such as the total heterotrophic plate count (HPC) have long been used by the industry to identify the potential threat from a number of different bacteria. However, not all organisms that pose a threat to water infrastructure are detected by HPCs. These threats include iron reducing bacteria (IRBs), acid producing bacteria (APBs), sulfate reducing bacteria (SRBs) and nitrifiers. ATP measures all microorganisms, making it the ideal tool to monitor and control biofilm formation. IRBs, APBs, and SRBs are all associated with Microbially Influenced Corrosion (MIC) in susceptible pipelines. Corrosion of premise plumbing systems can lead to lead and copper contamination. SRBs also produce hydrogen sulfide which neutralizes oxidizing disinfectants, such as chlorine and chloramine, and causes odour problems. Other problems caused by uncontrolled growth include taste and odor issues as well as reduced flow rates. A full overview of the benefits of ATP testing in water distribution networks can be found here.
Case Study: Water Age Control
A small, yet proactive town in the United States uses LuminUltra’s QuenchGone Aqueous test kit to monitor microbial growth in its reservoir tanks and distribution system. What is unique about this town is that the water is so clean that no treatment is required. Baseline ATP levels were determined for the system and a regular testing program was established. Whenever signs of elevated microbial activity are identified, the reservoir is drained and lines are flushed until the ATP concentration returns to baseline levels. While ATP tests measure the activity of all microorganisms and not specific pathogens, this town has yet to fail a regulated test under the current water management program.
Case Study: Water Distribution System Audit
LuminUltra teamed up with its European partner Aqua-tools and performed a site audit at a spa located outside Paris, France. One week prior to the audit, two work stations had tested positive for pathogenic organisms in the form of Pseudomonas. The spa utilizes untreated mineral water (from ground wells) at 40+ stations for therapeutic purposes. An HACCP-style audit was performed in order to locate the source and nature of the contamination. The audit clearly identified 2 lines with significantly higher concentrations of ATP compared to the main feed and other lines. These identified lines also contained the two stations that tested positive for Pseudomonas.
By using LuminUltra’s QGA test kit, the source (microbial build-up, or biofilm) and nature (localized) of the water contamination was clearly identified in less than 2 hours. This approach would have allowed a building operator to identify the uncontrolled growth and take corrective action that same day. The complete case study can be found on LuminUltra’s training and education website.
Case Study: Hospital Water Safety Audit Using ATP Measurements
In joint effort by LuminUltra and Clean Air & Water Inc., a site water safety audit was conducted at a hospital in Eastern Canada. The hospital treats the incoming city water with chlorine and a sand filter. A HACCP-style approach was followed to conduct this audit as well. Pre-treatment (city water) and post-treatment (hospital treated) samples were taken and the entire audit was completed that day. In that short time, the audit revealed 3 areas of elevated growth compared to the city water. This again allowed the building manager to rapidly identify the sources of uncontrolled growth and conduct on-the-spot trouble shooting. Please click here to get the full case study.
With the introduction of the stage 2 disinfection by-product (DBP) rule by the EPA, water managers throughout the United States will be evaluating their disinfection procedures. DBPs are formed when organic material in the water system comes in contact with free Chlorine. Trihalomethanes (THM) and haloacetic acids (HAA) are the two most commonly found DBPs in water distribution systems today, both of which can pose serious health risks. Ideally, organics are removed during pre-treatment and before disinfection using such methods as biologically active filters. However, not all utilities are able to offer such services and continue to disinfect raw water without pre-treatment.
Some utilities are switching to monochloramine in an effort to avoid DBP formation, but in doing so increase the risk of nitrifying bacteria. Nitrifiers cannot be grown using HPCs and changes in nitrate/nitrite are often used as inferred parameters to indicate their presence. LuminUltra worked with a municipal water utility that was experiencing significant nitrification issues in its distribution system to develop an early and easy detection method. During this study it was found that elevated ATP levels corresponded with low total chlorine, chlorite, and ammonia as well as high nitrite levels. When conventional water quality analysis was conducted, ATP helped confirm the occurrence of nitrification. More information about exposing nitrification in water systems by using ATP can found on LuminUltra’s blog.
In the above case studies, LuminUltra’s ATP test was able to rapidly and clearly identify elevated levels of microbial activity. This would provide managers with enough information to deliver localized treatment on the same day as testing, with the end result being less system down time and greater control over the growth of all microorganisms.