Drinking Water Quality

These are the most common tests carried out in the laboratories. Some or all of these tests can be carried out on a sample of drinking water to fulfil drinking water quality testing regulations.

Total Viable Count at 22°C and 37°C
A Total Viable Count (TVC) at 22°C and 37°C is the basic test for drinking water quality. Absolute numbers for acceptable counts are not defined, rather, the results should be monitored over a certain period in order to identify significant changes in total viable count. Several references regarding the standards for a TVC on drinking water are outlined here.

Total and Faecal coliforms, including Escherichia coli
Testing for coliforms is an important routine test for drinking water, as it is a very sensitive test for faecal contamination. If suspect colonies grow following the water filtration, then a test is carried out to determine whether the organisms are E. coli or other coliforms.

Faecal Streptococci
Faecal Streptococci are a secondary indicator of faecal pollution and a test for these organisms is usually carried out along with a test for coliforms. If positive result is obtained in this test, then any coliforms present are assumed to be faecal in origin.

Clostridium perfringens
Clostridium perfringens is the last indicator of faecal contamination and is almost always tested for in conjunction with coliforms and faecal streptococci. It is a good test to determine whether remote or intermittent contamination is occurring as the spores can persist in the environment for a considerable time.

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