Water and biofilm in drinking water distribution systems in the Netherlands

K.L.G. Learbuch, H. Smidt, P.W.J.J. van der Wielen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


To keep the high quality of drinking water in the future for non-chlorinated drinking water systems, knowledge about the variables that most strongly affect this quality is necessary in order to know where to focus on and possibly even change aspects of drinking water production and distribution. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate which variables (source of drinking water, growth potential and pipe material type) have the biggest influence on bacterial community composition and biomass concentration of drinking water and biofilm in distribution systems. Ten different distribution systems were sampled for water and biofilm, obtained from four different pipe materials, throughout the Netherlands. The distribution systems are supplied either with drinking water produced from groundwater or surface water, and differ in drinking water quality parameters such as the growth potential. We found a significant relationship for growth potential and ATP concentration in water, but for the ATP in the biofilm none of the parameters showed a significant effect. Furthermore, the source of the drinking water and the pipe material did not significantly affect the ATP concentration in water and biofilm. The bacterial composition of in both water and biofilm was significantly different between distribution systems delivering water with low and high growth potential and between drinking water produced from groundwater or surface water. In contrast, the different pipe materials did not significantly affect composition of biofilm-associated communities. We conclude from these results that the growth potential of the treated water best explains the variation in biomass and bacterial composition in water and biofilm of non-chlorinated drinking water distribution systems followed by the drinking water source, whereas pipe materials seem to be of lesser importance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154940
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2022


  • Biological stability
  • Growth potential
  • Microbial biomass concentration
  • Microbial community
  • Pipe material


Dive into the research topics of 'Water and biofilm in drinking water distribution systems in the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this