Household water in Oman, as well as in other countries in the region, is stored in tanks placed on house roofs that can be subjected to physicochemical factors which can promote microbial growth, including pathogens and opportunistic pathogens which pose health risks. Water samples were collected from 30 houses in a heavily populated suburb of Muscat. The tanks used were either glass reinforced plastic (GRP), polyethylene or galvanised iron (GI). Heterotrophic bacteria, coliforms, faecal coliforms and iron sulphur bacteria varied significantly in the three tanks. Yeast and mould count showed significant variations. Isolation of Aeromonas spp., fluorogenic and pathogenic Pseudomonas, Pasteurella, Salmonella, Serratia and Tatumella, and Yersinia and Legionella in biofilms varied in the three tanks. The fungi isolates in the three tanks were Penicillium, Cladosporium and Aspergillus. Nephelometric turbidity unit, threshold odour number and free chlorine varied significantly in the three tanks. True colour unit values did not show a significant difference; however, GRP tanks had algae, autotrophic and pigmented microorganisms. In addition, GI tanks had sediments and corrosion. The results of this investigation are important to evaluate the status of the present household water tanks in countries with high annual temperatures, which may affect public health.
Keywords: house storage tanks, opportunistic pathogens, physicochemical, water