COLITREND: Monitoring Escherichia coli dynamics at high temporal resolution in Canadian Drinking water supplies using autonomous online measurement technology

Detection of the faecal indicator bacterium Escherichia coli by culture has been the benchmark for routine monitoring of microbiological quality in drinking water sources. However, the method requires a minimum of 18-24 hours to deliver E. coli counts, which makes it impossible to take rapid and cost-effective decisions in case of microbial hazards that lead to regulatory threshold exceedances. Recently, new technologies have been developed to streamline and accelerate E. coli detection in water. They autonomously collect and measure at high precision ß-D-glucoronidase activity, an enzyme specific to E. coli, without the need for cultivation. In this project, we aim at implementing the novel and innovative technology (ColiMinder) at multiple Canadian drinking water treatment plants to better assess the vulnerability of their intakes to faecal pollution. Devices will measure E. coli dynamics at fine temporal resolution to identify, characterize and predict E. coli peak concentrations and elucidate the association between local hydro-climatology and peak pollution events through process-based modelling. For selected sites and periods, the occurrence of pathogens will be measured to understand the microbial risk associated with ß-D-glucuronidase activity measurements.

École Polytechnique de Montréal ((Dorner, S., Prévost, M., Burnet, J.B.)
Other partners
Université Libre de Bruxelles (Servais, P.),
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) (Stott, R.)
Université de Montréal (Duchesne, P.)
Institut de Recherche et de Développement en Agroenvironnement (IRDA)(Michaud, A.) University of Alberta (Neumann, N.)
Centre d’expertise en analyses environnementales du Québec (CEAEQ)(Cantin, P.)

Period of the study: 2018- 2020.

Financial support: National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada


Burnet J.B., Dihn Quoc T., Ceccantini, J., Servais P., Prevost M., Dorner S. Automated high frequency monitoring of β-D-glucuronidase activity in a drinking water supply: analytical validation and comparison with E. coli quantification methods. Water Quatity Technology Conference 2017. Proceedings.