The present study aimed to compare several methods for quantifying and discriminating between the different physiological states of a bacterial population present in drinking water. Flow cytometry (FCM), solid-phase cytometry (SPC), epifluorescence microscopy (MSP) and culture method performances were assessed by comparing the results obtained for different water samples. These samples, including chlorinated and non-chlorinated water, were collected in a drinking water treatment plant. Total bacteria were quantified by using SYBR Green II (for FCM) and 4′,6′-diamino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) (for MSP), viable and non-viable bacteria were distinguished by using SYBR Green II and propidium iodide dual staining (for FCM), and active cells were distinguished by using CTC (for MSP) and Chemchrome V6 (for FCM and SPC). In our conditions, counts using microscopy and FCM were significantly correlated regarding total bacteria and active cells. Conversely, counts were not significantly similar using solid-phase and FCM for active bacteria. Moreover, the R2A medium showed that bacterial culturability could be recovered after chlorination. This study highlights that FCM appears to be a useful and powerful technique for drinking water production monitoring.