Enumeration of sulphate-reducing bacteria for assessing potential for hydrogen sulphide production in urban drainage systems

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Urban drainage structures have increasing demands which can lead to increasing hydrogen sulphide related problems forming in places where they have not previously been prevalent. This puts pressure on the methods currently used to monitor and diagnose these problems and more sophisticated methods may be needed for identifying the origin of the problems. Molecular microbiological techniques, such as quantitative polymerase chain reaction, offer a potential alternative for identifying and quantifying bacteria likely to be causing the production of hydrogen sulphide, information that, when combined with an appropriate sampling programme, can then be used to identify the potentially most effective remediation technique. The application of these methods in urban drainage systems is, however, not always simple, but good results can be achieved. In this study bacteria producing hydrogen sulphide were quantified in three small combined sewer overflow storage tanks. Bacterial counts were compared between wastewater, biofilms and sediments. Similar numbers were found in the wastewater and biofilms, with the numbers in the sediments being lower. If remediation methods for hydrogen sulphide are deemed necessary in the tanks, methods that target both the wastewater and the biofilms should therefore be considered.

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