A survey of the microbiological quality of private water supplies in England

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Journal: Epidemiol Infect 2000/09/12
Published: 2000
Authors: Rutter, M.;Nichols, G. L.;Swan, A.;De Louvois, J.
Address: CDSC, Public Health Laboratory Service, London.

Results from statutory testing of private water supplies in nine Public Health Laboratories in England were compiled, and the effects of supply class, source, treatment and location on water quality were examined. A total of 6551 samples from 2911 supplies was examined, over a 2-year period, of which 1342 (21%) samples, and 949 (33%) supplies on at least one occasion, failed current regulations for Escherichia coli. Total coliforms, including E. coli, were detected in 1751 (27%) samples from 1215 (42%) supplies. The percentage of samples positive for E. coli was highest in summer and autumn, and lowest in winter. Samples taken from larger supplies and from boreholes were less frequently contaminated than those from other sources. Chlorination, filtration or UV light treatment improved the bacteriological quality of supplies, but still resulted in a low level of compliance with the regulations. The public health implications of the study are discussed.

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