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The role of groundwater chemistry in the transport of bacteria to water-supply wells

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Abstract

Static mini-columns and in situ injection and recovery tests were used to assess the effects of modest changes in groundwater chemistry upon the pH-dependence of bacterial attachment, a primary determinant of bacterial mobility in drinking water aquifers. In uncontaminated groundwater (<1 mg l-1 dissolved organic carbon, DOC), bacterial attachment to aquifer grain surfaces declined steadily from 93 to 20% in response to an increase in pH from 5.8 to 7.8. However, bacterial attachment in modestly-contaminated groundwater (4 mg l-1 DOC) was relatively insensitive to pH change from pH 3.5 to pH 8, as was bacterial attachment in uncontaminated groundwater amended with only ~3 mg l-1 of purified humic acid. Destruction by UV-oxidation of the DOC in contaminated groundwater partially restored the pH-dependence of bacterial attachment. Results from static column tests and from a small-scale (3.6 m) natural-gradient injection and recovery study suggest that low concentrations of surfactants can also substantively alter the attraction of groundwater bacteria for grain surfaces and, therefore can alter the transport of bacteria to water-supply wells. This phenomenon was pH-sensitive and dependent upon the nature of the surfactant. At pH 7.6, 200 mg l-1 of the non-ionic surfactant, Imbentin, caused a doubling of fractional bacterial attachment in aquifer-sediment columns, but had little effect under slightly acidic conditions (e.g. at pH 5.8). In contrast, 1 mg l-1 of linear alkylbenzene sulphonate (LAS) surfactant, a common sewage-derived contaminant, decreased the fractional bacterial attachment by more than 30% at pH 5.8, but had little effect at pH 7.3.Static mini-columns and in situ injection and recovery tests were used to assess the effects of modest changes in groundwater chemistry upon the pH-dependence of bacterial attachment, a primary determinant of bacterial mobility in drinking water aquifers. In uncontaminated groundwater (<1 mg l-1 dissolved organic carbon, DOC), bacterial attachment to aquifer grain surfaces declined steadily from 93 to 20% in response to an increase in pH from 5.8 to 7.8. However, bacterial attachment in modestly-contaminated groundwater (4 mg l-1 DOC) was relatively insensitive to pH change from pH 3.5 to pH 8, as was bacterial attachment in uncontaminated groundwater amended with only approx. 3 mg l-1 of purified humic acid. Destruction of UV-oxidation of the DOC in contaminated groundwater partially restored the pH-dependence of bacterial attachment. Results from the static column tests and from a small-scale (3.6 m) natural-gradient injection and recovery study suggest that low concentrations of surfactants can also substantively alter the attraction of groundwater bacteria for grain surfaces and, therefore can alter the transport of bacteria to water-supply wells. This phenomenon was pH-sensitive and dependent upon the nature of the surfactant. At pH 7.6, 200 mg l-1 of the non-ionic surfactant, Imbentin, caused a doubling of fractional bacterial attachment in aquifer-sediment columns, but had little effect under slightly acidic conditions (e.g. at pH 5.8). In contrast, 1 mg l-1 of linear alkylbenzene sulphonate (LAS) surfactant, a common sewage-derived contaminant, decreased the fractional bacterial attachment by more than 30% at pH 5.8, but had little effect at pH 7.3.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Title:
The role of groundwater chemistry in the transport of bacteria to water-supply wells
Issue:
260
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
IAHS
Publisher location:
Houston, TX, United States
Larger Work Title:
IAHS-AISH Publication
First page:
49
Last page:
50
Number of Pages:
2
Conference Title:
The 2nd International Symposium on Assessing and Managing Health Risks from Drinking Water Contamination: Approaches and Applications
Conference Location:
Santiago, Chile
Conference Date:
7 September 1998 through 10 September 1998