Comparison of bacterial indicators and sampling programs for drinking water systems.


A total of 48 French villages were selected for a survey of water quality from February 1983 to June 1984 as part of an epidemiological study conducted in the rural area of the Rhône-Alpes region. Water samples were collected and analyzed on a weekly basis in each village. Bacteriological analysis of each water sample included enumeration of standard plate count bacteria, total and thermotolerant coliforms, and fecal streptococci. The water quality regulations are examined as to the analysis frequency, the volume of samples, and the relationship between the various bacterial indicators. Analyzing 300-ml, instead of 100-ml, samples tends to generate better information on single water samples. However, if many samples are analyzed over time from the same community, the value of using large volumes of water samples is diminished. The comparisons between bacterial indicators showed that the information obtained from the various indicators was very similar. However, fecal streptococci had a better predictive value of a negative test than coliforms with respect to the French standards.

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