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All water treatment systems are susceptible to bacterial contamination. Benign bacteria like HPC’s can lurk in safe city water supplies and slowly colonize traditional water treatment equipment. Heterotrophic plate count (HPC) bacteria are a generally benign family of chlorine-resistant bacteria that inhabit most plumbing systems. HPCs are evident as part of the slimy coating that can be found on drinking filters and inside water softeners known as a ‘biofilm’.
A biofilm is a collection or organic and inorganic material, as well as living and dead organisms, responsible for numerous water quality & distribution problems such as loss of residual disinfection levels, odors, color, microbial-induced corrosion, reduced material life and a reduction in dissolved oxygen content. While HPCs themselves are generally not harmful to human health, they provide nutrition and protection for pathogenic organisms.
Pathogenic organisms can be introduced into a water quality management system through a variety of ways, including through the influent water supply, during regeneration, or through outside action. For this reason, biological risk management (BRM) protocols are necessary to prevent, contain and eliminate the colonization pathogenic and non-pathogenic entities within water treatment equipment.
Properly implemented disinfection protocols can be a cost-effective means of reducing both benign & pathogenic organisms. Prevention of contamination is obviously easier and more cost-effective than addressing an incident after colonization has occurred. The development and implementation of a step-by-step disinfection protocol for the control and prevention of bacterial contamination in water treatment equipment is essential for all installations, whether residential, commercial or industrial.
Disinfection protocols may vary depending on the need specific site. No single disinfectant or protocol is ideal for all situations. Always consult with your local Certified Water Specialist for location-specific guidelines.