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- 2022.

Financial support: National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada


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Burnet, J.B., Sylvestre, E., Jalbert, J., Imbeault, S., Servais, P., Prévost, M., Dorner, S. 2019. Tracking the contribution of multiple raw and treated wastewater discharges in an urban drinking water supply by near-real time monitoring of β-D-glucuronidase. Water Research. 164: 114869

Burnet, J.B., Dinh, Q.T., Imbeault, S., Servais, P., Dorner, S., Prévost. M. 2019. Autonomous online measurement of β-D-glucuronidase activity in surface water: is it suitable for E. coli monitoring ? Water Research. 152: 241-250.

Burnet, J.B., Sylvestre, E., Hachad, M., Servais, P. Dorner, S. Prévost, M. Tracking the contribution of multiple treated wastewater and CSO discharges at drinking water intakes by online E. coli monitoring. Water Quatity Technology Conference 2018 Proceedings.

Burnet, J.B., Sylvestre, E., Hachad, M., Servais, P. Dorner, S. Prévost, M. Using online monitoring of E. coli to link faecal pollution dynamics to contamination sources and hydrometeorology in an urban drinking water supply in the Greater Montréal area. Water Quatity Technology Conference 2018 Proceedings.

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.