Microbial management of unwanted odor compounds in drinking water.

01 November 2021 → 31 October 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Community ecology
    • Microbiomes
    • Aquatic chemistry
    • Environmental management
  • Engineering and technology
    • (Waste)water treatment processes
Aesthetic drinking water quality Volatile organic odor compounds Drinking water microbiome
Project description

Guaranteeing drinking water quality for citizens is generally considered as an important subject. This quality is influenced by physicochemical and microbial processes during the storage and distribution of drinking water. Although, drinking water is not sterile and microbial regrowth and conversions of organic compounds in the water can lead to odor complaints, which are major issues for drinking water providers. In this project, the goal is to determine an explanation for these unwanted odors at the tap and to develop a proactive microbial screening method. In collaboration with drinking water providers, samples from full-scale distribution networks will be collected. In a first part, these samples will be subjected to a microbial and analytical analysis to examine correlations between the microbiome, (physico)chemical parameters and odor compounds. These components are mainly volatile organic compounds characterized by a low odor threshold, which makes the detection of them very difficult. This indicates that the development of measurement techniques to determine these low concentrations is a necessity. Secondly, the goal is to simulate and induce the formation of bad odor compounds to determine more specifically the microbial properties of the biofilm which are responsible for the formation of odor compounds. Finally, microbial indicators will be identified and inhibition methods to prevent the production of unwanted odor compounds will be developed.