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Concept: Water supply network


BACKGROUND: Urban slums in developing countries that are not recognized by the government often lack legal access to municipal water supplies. This results in the creation of insecure “informal” water distribution systems (i.e., community-run or private systems outside of the government’s purview) that may increase water-borne disease risk. We evaluate an informal water distribution system in a slum in Mumbai, India using commonly accepted health and social equity indicators. We also identify predictors of bacterial contamination of drinking water using logistic regression analysis. METHODS: Data were collected through two studies: the 2008 Baseline Needs Assessment survey of 959 households and the 2011 Seasonal Water Assessment, in which 229 samples were collected for water quality testing over three seasons. Water samples were collected in each season from the following points along the distribution system: motors that directly tap the municipal supply (i.e., “point-of-source” water), hoses going to slum lanes, and storage and drinking water containers from 21 households. RESULTS: Depending on season, households spend an average of 52 to 206 times more than the standard municipal charge of Indian rupees 2.25 (US dollars 0.04) per 1000 liters for water, and, in some seasons, 95% use less than the WHO-recommended minimum of 50 liters per capita per day. During the monsoon season, 50% of point-of-source water samples were contaminated. Despite a lack of point-of-source water contamination in other seasons, stored drinking water was contaminated in all seasons, with rates as high as 43% for E. coli and 76% for coliform bacteria. In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, monsoon and summer seasons were associated with significantly increased odds of drinking water contamination. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings reveal severe deficiencies in water-related health and social equity indicators. All bacterial contamination of drinking water occurred due to post-source contamination during storage in the household, except during the monsoon season, when there was some point-of-source water contamination. This suggests that safe storage and household water treatment interventions may improve water quality in slums. Problems of exorbitant expense, inadequate quantity, and poor point-of-source quality can only be remedied by providing unrecognized slums with equitable access to municipal water supplies.

Concepts: Water, Water pollution, Water quality, Drinking water, Waterborne diseases, Water treatment, Water supply, Water supply network


Characterising the organic and microbial matrix of water are key issues in ensuring a safe potable water supply. Current techniques only confirm water quality retrospectively via laboratory analysis of discrete samples. Whilst such analysis is required for regulatory purposes, it would be highly beneficial to monitor water quality in-situ in real time, enabling rapid water quality assessment and facilitating proactive management of water supply systems. A novel LED-based instrument, detecting fluorescence peaks C and T (surrogates for organic and microbial matter, respectively), was constructed and performance assessed. Results from over 200 samples taken from source waters through to customer tap from three UK water companies are presented. Excellent correlation was observed between the new device and a research grade spectrophotometer (r(2)=0.98 and 0.77 for peak C and peak T respectively), demonstrating the potential of providing a low cost, portable alternative fluorimeter. The peak C/TOC correlation was very good (r(2)=0.75) at low TOC levels found in drinking water. However, correlations between peak T and regulatory measures of microbial matter (2day/3day heterotrophic plate counts (HPC), E. coli, and total coliforms) were poor, due to the specific nature of these regulatory measures and the general measure of peak T. A more promising correlation was obtained between peak T and total bacteria using flow cytometry. Assessment of the fluorescence of four individual bacteria isolated from drinking water was also considered and excellent correlations found with peak T (Sphingobium sp. (r(2)=0.83); Methylobacterium sp. (r(2)=1.0); Rhodococcus sp. (r(2)=0.86); Xenophilus sp. (r(2)=0.96)). It is notable that each of the bacteria studied exhibited different levels of fluorescence as a function of their number. The scope for LED based instrumentation for in-situ, real time assessment of the organic and microbial matrix of potable water is clearly demonstrated.

Concepts: Water supply network


Coinciding with major changes to its municipal water system, Flint, MI, endured Legionnaires' disease outbreaks in 2014 and 2015. By sampling premise plumbing in Flint in the fall of 2016, we found that 12% of homes harbored legionellae, a frequency similar to that in residences in neighboring areas. To evaluate the genetic diversity of Legionella pneumophila in Southeast Michigan, we determined the sequence type (ST) and serogroup (SG) of the 18 residential isolates from Flint and Detroit, MI, and the 33 clinical isolates submitted by hospitals in three area counties in 2013 to 2016. Common to one environmental and four clinical samples were strains of L. pneumophila SG1 and ST1, the most prevalent ST worldwide. Among the Flint premise plumbing isolates, 14 of 16 strains were of ST367 and ST461, two closely related SG6 strain types isolated previously from patients and corresponding environmental samples. Each of the representative SG1 clinical strains and SG6 environmental isolates from Southeast Michigan infected and survived within macrophage cultures at least as well as a virulent laboratory strain, as judged by microscopy and by enumerating CFU. Likewise, 72 h after infection, the yield of viable-cell counts increased >100-fold for each of the representative SG1 clinical isolates, Flint premise plumbing SG6 ST367 and -461 isolates, and two Detroit residential isolates. We verified by immunostaining that SG1-specific antibody does not cross-react with the SG6 L. pneumophila environmental strains. Because the widely used urinary antigen diagnostic test does not readily detect non-SG1 L. pneumophila, Legionnaires' disease caused by SG6 L. pneumophila is likely underreported worldwide.IMPORTANCEL. pneumophila is the leading cause of disease outbreaks associated with drinking water in the United States. Compared to what is known of the established risks of colonization within hospitals and hotels, relatively little is known about residential exposure to L. pneumophila One year after two outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease in Genesee County, MI, that coincided with damage to the Flint municipal water system, our multidisciplinary team launched an environmental surveillance and laboratory research campaign aimed at informing risk management strategies to provide safe public water supplies. The most prevalent L. pneumophila strains isolated from residential plumbing were closely related strains of SG6. In laboratory tests of virulence, the SG6 environmental isolates resembled SG1 clinical strains, yet they are not readily detected by the common diagnostic urinary antigen test, which is specific for SG1. Therefore, our study complements the existing epidemiological literature indicating that Legionnaires' disease due to non-SG1 strains is underreported around the globe.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Water, Legionellosis, Legionella, Drinking water, Infrastructure, Michigan, Water supply network


BACKGROUND: Few studies have examined water consumption patterns among US children. Additionally, recent data on total water consumption as it relates to the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) are lacking. This study evaluated the consumption of plain water (tap and bottled) and other beverages among US children by age group, gender, income-to-poverty ratio, and race/ethnicity. Comparisons were also made to DRI values for water consumption from all sources. METHODS: Data from two non-consecutive 24-hour recalls from 3 cycles of NHANES (2005–2006, 2007–2008 and 2009–2010) was used to assess water and beverage consumption among 4,766 children age 4-13y. Beverages were classified into 9 groups: water (tap and bottled), plain and flavored milk, 100% fruit juice, soda/soft drinks (regular and diet), fruit drinks, sports drinks, coffee, tea, and energy drinks. Total water intakes from plain water, beverages, and food were compared to DRIs for the US. Total water volume per 1,000 kcal was also examined. RESULTS: Water and other beverages contributed 70-75% of dietary water, with 25-30% provided by moisture in foods, depending on age. Plain water, tap and bottled, contributed 25-30% of total dietary water. In general, tap water represented 60% of drinking water volume whereas bottled water represented 40%. Non-Hispanic white children consumed the most tap water, whereas Mexican-American children consumed the most bottled water. Plain water consumption (bottled and tap) tended to be associated with higher incomes. No group of US children came close to satisfying the DRIs for water. At least 75% of children 4-8y, 87% of girls 9-13y, and 85% of boys 9-13y did not meet DRIs for total water intake. Water volume per 1,000 kcal, another criterion of adequate hydration, was 0.85-0.95 L/1,000 kcal, short of the desirable levels of 1.0-1.5 L/1,000 kcal. CONCLUSIONS: Water intakes at below-recommended levels may be a cause for concern. Data on water and beverage intake for the population and among socio-demographic group may provide useful information to target interventions for increasing water intake among children.

Concepts: Water, Coffee, Bottled water, Drinking water, Drink, Water supply network, Drinking, Kefir


Water is vital for life, and plain water is a calorie-free option for hydration. Increasing consumption of drinking water is a strategy to reduce energy intake and lose or maintain weight; however, information on the characteristics of consumers who drink water is limited. Our objective was to describe the characteristics of people who have a low intake of drinking water and to determine associations between their behaviors and attitudes and their intake of water.

Concepts: Water, Drinking water, Desalination, Water crisis, Water supply network


It has long been viewed that the maintenance of osmotic balance in response to high salt intake is a passive process that is mediated largely by increased water consumption to balance the salt load. Two studies in this issue of the JCI challenge this notion and demonstrate that osmotic balance in response to high salt intake involves a complex regulatory process that is influenced by hormone fluctuation, metabolism, food consumption, water intake, and renal salt and water excretion. Rakova et al. report the unexpected observation that long-term high salt intake did not increase water consumption in humans but instead increased water retention. Moreover, salt and water balance was influenced by glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid fluctuations. Kitada et al. extend upon these findings in mouse models and determined that increased urea and a corresponding increase in urea transporters in the renal medulla as the result of increased protein intake promote the water retention that is needed to achieve osmotic homeostasis. Together, the results of these two studies lay the groundwork for future studies to determine how, in the face of chronic changes in salt intake, humans maintain volume and osmotic homeostasis.

Concepts: Ammonia, Metabolism, Water, Salt, Edible salt, Osmosis, Water supply network, Osmoregulation


Ensuring safe water supply for communities across the United States is a growing challenge in the face of aging infrastructure, impaired source water, and strained community finances. In the aftermath of the Flint lead crisis, there is an urgent need to assess the current state of US drinking water. However, no nationwide assessment has yet been conducted on trends in drinking water quality violations across several decades. Efforts to reduce violations are of national concern given that, in 2015, nearly 21 million people relied on community water systems that violated health-based quality standards. In this paper, we evaluate spatial and temporal patterns in health-related violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act using a panel dataset of 17,900 community water systems over the period 1982-2015. We also identify vulnerability factors of communities and water systems through probit regression. Increasing time trends and violation hot spots are detected in several states, particularly in the Southwest region. Repeat violations are prevalent in locations of violation hot spots, indicating that water systems in these regions struggle with recurring issues. In terms of vulnerability factors, we find that violation incidence in rural areas is substantially higher than in urbanized areas. Meanwhile, private ownership and purchased water source are associated with compliance. These findings indicate the types of underperforming systems that might benefit from assistance in achieving consistent compliance. We discuss why certain violations might be clustered in some regions and strategies for improving national drinking water quality.

Concepts: Water quality, Drinking water, Water supply network, Safe Drinking Water Act


The online and accurate monitoring of drinking water supply networks is critically in demand to rapidly detect the accidental or deliberate contamination of drinking water. At present, miniaturized water quality monitoring sensors developed in the laboratories are usually tested under ambient pressure and steady-state flow conditions; however, in Water Distribution Systems (WDS), both the pressure and the flowrate fluctuate. In this paper, an interface is designed and fabricated using additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology-material extrusion (Trade Name: fused deposition modeling, FDM) and material jetting-to provide a conduit for miniaturized sensors for continuous online water quality monitoring. The interface is designed to meet two main criteria: low pressure at the inlet of the sensors and a low flowrate to minimize the water bled (i.e., leakage), despite varying pressure from WDS. To meet the above criteria, a two-dimensional computational fluid dynamics model was used to optimize the geometry of the channel. The 3D printed interface, with the embedded miniaturized pH and conductivity sensors, was then tested at different temperatures and flowrates. The results show that the response of the pH sensor is independent of the flowrate and temperature. As for the conductivity sensor, the flowrate and temperature affect only the readings at a very low conductivity (4 µS/cm) and high flowrates (30 mL/min), and a very high conductivity (460 µS/cm), respectively.

Concepts: Water, Thermodynamics, Computational fluid dynamics, 3D printing, Fused deposition modeling, Rapid manufacturing, Water supply network, Additive manufacturing


What happens to tap water when you are away from home? Day-to-day water stagnation in building plumbing can potentially result in water quality deterioration (e.g., lead release or pathogen proliferation), which is a major public health concern. However, little is known about the microbial ecosystem processes in plumbing systems, hindering the development of biological monitoring strategies. Here, we track tap water microbiome assembly in situ, showing that bacterial community composition changes rapidly from the city supply following ~6-day stagnation, along with an increase in cell count from 103cells/mL to upwards of 7.8 × 105cells/mL. Remarkably, bacterial community assembly was highly reproducible in this built environment system (median Spearman correlation between temporal replicates = 0.78). Using an island biogeography model, we show that neutral processes arising from the microbial communities in the city water supply (i.e., migration and demographic stochasticity) explained the island community composition in proximal pipes (Goodness-of-fit = 0.48), yet declined as water approached the faucet (Goodness-of-fit = 0.21). We developed a size-effect model to simulate this process, which indicated that pipe diameter drove these changes by mediating the kinetics of hypochlorite decay and cell detachment, affecting selection, migration, and demographic stochasticity. Our study challenges current water quality monitoring practice worldwide which ignore biological growth in plumbing, and suggests the island biogeography model as a useful framework to evaluate building water system quality.

Concepts: Bacteria, Water, Water quality, Valve, Drinking water, Water supply, Water supply network, Tap water


The aim of this study was to infer about the modes and extent of dispersion of Sphingomonadaceae via tap water. Sphingomonadaceae isolated from tap water samples in different places of a hospital were compared, based on intra-species genetic variability and antibiotic resistance phenotypes. These isolates were also compared with others isolated before from houses and dental chairs, served by the same municipal water supply system. Sphingomonadaceae from hospital tap water comprised members of the genera Sphingomonas, Sphingobium, Novosphingobium and Blastomonas. In general, distinct genotypes of Sphingomonadaceae were detected in different hospital areas and in tap water outside the hospital, suggesting these bacteria are not persistent or widespread in the urban water distribution system. Possible intrinsic antibiotic resistance, observed in most or all members of the family or of a genus, was observed for colistin in Sphingomonadaceae, aminoglycosides in the genus Blastomonas and beta-lactams in the genus Sphingobium. Possible acquired resistance phenotypes, not common to all members of a given species, comprised fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins and sulphonamides. Although the potential of Sphingomonadaceae as opportunistic pathogens may be low, the capacity of these bacteria to thrive in water supply systems, combined with the intrinsic or acquired antibiotic resistance, may raise the risk associated with their occurrence in hospital tap water.

Concepts: Gene, Bacteria, Evolution, Water, Antibiotic resistance, Drinking water, Water supply network, Sphingomonadaceae