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Review of Risk Status of Groundwater Supply Wells by Tracing the Source of Coliform Contamination

South Australian Water Corporation, 250 Victoria Square, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
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Academic Editor: David Polya
Water 2015, 7(7), 3878-3905; https://doi.org/10.3390/w7073878
Received: 22 December 2014 / Revised: 3 July 2015 / Accepted: 3 July 2015 / Published: 14 July 2015
Coliform source tracking was undertaken on 48 water sources of which 42 are potable in 26 water supply systems spread across South Australia. The water sources in the study vary from unprotected springs in creek beds to deep confined aquifers. The frequency analysis of historical coliform detections indicate that aquifer types, depth to water and casing depth are important considerations; whilst maintaining well integrity and the presence of low permeable clay layers above the production zone are the dominant parameters for minimizing coliform contamination of water supply wells. However, in karst and fractured rock aquifers, pathways for coliform transport exist, as evidenced in the >200 MPN/100 mL level of coliform detection. Data indicate that there is no compelling evidence to support the contention that the wells identified as low risk are contaminated through geological strata and clay barriers. However, data strongly supports the suggestion that coliform detection from sample taps and wellheads stem from the surrounding groundwater and soil-plant sources as a result of failed well integrity, or potentially from coliform bacteria that can persist within biofilms formed on well casings, screens, pump columns and pumps. Coliform sub-typing results show that most coliform bacteria detected in town water supply wells are associated with the soil-water-plant system and are ubiquitous in the environment: Citrobacter spp. (65%), Enterobacter spp. (63%), Pantoea spp. (17%), Serratia spp. (19%), Klebsiella spp. (34%), and Pseudomonas spp. (10%). Overall, 70% of wells harbor detectable thermotolerant coliforms (TTC) with potentially 36% of species of animal origin, including Escherichia coli species found in 12% of wells. View Full-Text
Keywords: risk assessment; groundwater risk assessment model (GRAM); coliforms; risk management; town water supply; coliform source tracking risk assessment; groundwater risk assessment model (GRAM); coliforms; risk management; town water supply; coliform source tracking
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Somaratne, N.; Hallas, G. Review of Risk Status of Groundwater Supply Wells by Tracing the Source of Coliform Contamination. Water 2015, 7, 3878-3905.

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