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Understanding the costs of investigating coliform and E. coli detections during routine drinking water quality monitoring

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Catherine BiggsORCiD


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Bacteriological failure investigations are crucial in the provision of safe, clean drinking water as part of a process of quality assurance and continual improvement. However, the financial implications of investigating coliform and Escherichia coli failures during routine water quality monitoring are poorly understood in the industry. The investigations for 737 coliform and E. coli failures across five UK water companies were analysed in this paper. The principal components of investigation costs were staff hours worked, re-samples collected, transportation, and special investigatory activities related to the sample collection location. The average investigation costs ranged from £575 for a customer tap failure to £4,775 for a water treatment works finished water failure. These costs were compared to predictions for US utilities under the Revised Total Coliform Rule. Improved understanding of the financial and staffing implications of investigating bacteriological failures can be used to budget operational expenditures and justify increased funding for preventive strategies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ellis K, Gowdy C, Jakomis N, Ryan B, Thom C, Biggs C, Speight V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Urban Water Journal

Year: 2017

Volume: 15

Issue: 2

Pages: 101-108

Online publication date: 21/11/2017

Acceptance date: 18/10/2017

ISSN (print): 1573-062X

ISSN (electronic): 1744-9006

Publisher: Taylor & Francis


DOI: 10.1080/1573062X.2017.1398762


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