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Are Presence/Absence Microbial Tests Appropriate for Monitoring Large Urban Water Supplies in Sub-Saharan Africa?

1
Aquaya Institute, PO Box 21862-00505, Nairobi 00100, Kenya
2
Aquaya Institute, PO Box 1603, San Anselmo, CA 94797, USA
3
Office National de l’Eau et de l’Assainissement (ONEA), Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso
4
Sénégalaise des Eaux (SDE), Dakar 10200, Senegal
5
Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC), Nairobi 00100, Kenya
6
Société de Distribution d’Eau de la Côte d’Ivoire (SODECI), Abidjan 01, Côte d’Ivoire
7
Société Malienne pour la Gestion de l’Eau Potable (SOMAGEP), BP E 708 Bamako, Mali
8
Neogen Corporation, Lansing, MI 48912, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(3), 491; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030491
Received: 7 January 2019 / Revised: 28 February 2019 / Accepted: 3 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Water Quality and Ecosystems)
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PDF [506 KB, uploaded 8 March 2019]
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Abstract

Screening for fecal contamination via microbial water quality monitoring is a critical component of safe drinking water provision and public health protection. Achieving adequate levels of microbial water quality testing, however, is a challenge in resource-limited settings. One strategy for addressing this challenge is to improve the efficiency of monitoring programs. In African countries, quantitative microbial testing methods are commonly used to monitor chlorinated piped water systems. However, presence/absence (P/A) tests may provide an appropriate alternative for water supplies that generally show negative fecal contamination results. This study compares 1048 water quality test results for samples collected from five African urban water systems. The operators of the systems conducted parallel tests on the 1048 samples using their standard quantitative methods (e.g., most probable number or membrane filtration) and the Colitag™ method in P/A format. Combined data demonstrates agreement rates of 97.9% (1024/1046) for detecting total coliforms and 97.8% (1025/1048) for detecting E. coli. We conclude that the P/A test offers advantages as a simpler and similarly sensitive measure of potential fecal contamination for large, urban chlorinated water systems. P/A tests may also offer a cost-effective alternative to quantitative methods, as they are quicker to perform and require less laboratory equipment. View Full-Text
Keywords: water quality; water testing; monitoring; presence-absence; Colitag™; urban water; sub-Saharan Africa water quality; water testing; monitoring; presence-absence; Colitag™; urban water; sub-Saharan Africa
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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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MacLeod, C.; Peletz, R.; Kere, F.; M’Baye, A.; Onyango, M.; Aw, S.; El Hadj Issabre, M.; Tung, R.; Khush, R. Are Presence/Absence Microbial Tests Appropriate for Monitoring Large Urban Water Supplies in Sub-Saharan Africa? Water 2019, 11, 491.

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