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Water 2016, 8(2), 65; doi:10.3390/w8020065

Monitoring of β-d-Galactosidase Activity as a Surrogate Parameter for Rapid Detection of Sewage Contamination in Urban Recreational Water

Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Gaustadalléen 21, 0349 Oslo, Norway
Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, 1432 Ås, Norway
Colifast AS, Strandveien 33, 1366 Lysaker, Norway
Oslo Water and Sewerage Works, Postboks 4704 Sofienberg, 0506 Oslo, Norway
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sunny Jiang
Received: 11 December 2015 / Revised: 18 January 2016 / Accepted: 28 January 2016 / Published: 18 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pathogens in Water)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1200 KB, uploaded 18 February 2016]   |  


Simple, automated methods are required for rapid detection of wastewater contamination in urban recreational water. The activity of the enzyme β-d-galactosidase (GAL) can rapidly (<2 h) be measured by field instruments, or a fully automated instrument, and was evaluated as a potential surrogate parameter for estimating the level of fecal contamination in urban waters. The GAL-activity in rivers, affected by combined sewer overflows, increased significantly during heavy rainfall, and the increase in GAL-activity correlated well with the increase in fecal indicator bacteria. The GAL activity in human feces (n = 14) was high (mean activity 7 × 107 ppb MU/hour) and stable (1 LOG10 variation), while the numbers of Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci varied by >5 LOG10. Furthermore, the GAL-activity per gram feces from birds, sheep and cattle was 2–3 LOG10 lower than the activity from human feces, indicating that high GAL-activity in water may reflect human fecal pollution more than the total fecal pollution. The rapid method can only be used to quantify high levels of human fecal pollution, corresponding to about 0.1 mg human feces/liter (or 103 E. coli/100 mL), since below this limit GAL-activity from non-fecal environmental sources may interfere. View Full-Text
Keywords: early warning; fecal contamination; recreational water; short-term pollution early warning; fecal contamination; recreational water; short-term pollution

Figure 1a

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Tryland, I.; Braathen, H.; Wennberg, A.C.; Eregno, F.; Beschorner, A.-L. Monitoring of β-d-Galactosidase Activity as a Surrogate Parameter for Rapid Detection of Sewage Contamination in Urban Recreational Water. Water 2016, 8, 65.

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