According to the Dutch Water Act, water companies are required to measure a wide variety of chemical parameters in drinking water (>200) while the number of microbiological parameters required is very limited (<10). Microbiological examination of drinking water is primarily based on classical culturing methods. Over the years this has resulted in extensive knowledge about the presence of possible microbiological threats to public health and knowledge of the microbiological processes during the production of drinking water and transport. However, the application of direct cell counts (microscopic and flow cytometry) has shown that the culturable microorganisms in water are only presenting a fraction of the total microbial population (<1%) and that most of the cells seem to be active.
Drinking water sources, treatment and distribution have an enormous impact on the (micro) biological composition/quality of the drinking water produced and distributed. The main question is whether it is possible to predict and control the changes in biological quality and stability of drinking water caused by changes in drinking water processes. Within this theme, the focus will be on generating fingerprints (sometimes called barcoding or barcodes) of the complete microbial population present in (drinking) water based on Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). With this the effect of disturbances on the fingerprint can be examined and indicator organisms/markers can be characterized. The final aim is to develop applications for a precise (online) monitoring/control of water quality and water treatment processes.