A Summary Catalogue of Microbial Drinking Water Tests for Low and Medium Resource Settings

Microbial drinking-water quality testing plays an essential role in measures to protect public health. However, such testing remains a significant challenge where resources are limited. With a wide variety of tests available, researchers and practitioners have expressed difficulties in selecting the most appropriate test(s) for a particular budget, application and setting. To assist the selection process we identified the characteristics associated with low and medium resource settings and we specified the basic information that is needed for different forms of water quality monitoring. We then searched for available faecal indicator bacteria tests and collated this information. In total 44 tests have been identified, 18 of which yield a presence/absence result and 26 of which provide enumeration of bacterial concentration. The suitability of each test is assessed for use in the three settings. The cost per test was found to vary from $0.60 to $5.00 for a presence/absence test and from $0.50 to $7.50 for a quantitative format, though it is likely to be only a small component of the overall costs of testing. This article presents the first comprehensive catalogue of the characteristics of available and emerging low-cost tests for faecal indicator bacteria. It will be of value to organizations responsible for monitoring
national water quality, water service providers, researchers and policy makers in selecting water quality tests appropriate for a given setting and application.

A Summary Catalogue of Microbial Drinking Water Tests for Low and Medium Resource Settings. R. Bain, J. Bartram, M. Elliott, R. Matthews, L. McMahan, R. Tung, P. Chuang, S. Gundry. 2012. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 9:5, pp. 1609–1625. doi.org/10.3390/ijerph9051609