Rapid Detection of Sewer Pipeline Problems Using Bacterial DNA Markers and Q-PCR Technology

EPA Grant Number: R834871
Title: Rapid Detection of Sewer Pipeline Problems Using Bacterial DNA Markers and Q-PCR Technology
Investigators: Yan, Tao
Institution: University of Hawaii at Manoa
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Project Period: February 1, 2011 through January 31, 2016
Project Amount: $299,956
RFA: Advancing Public Health Protection through Water Infrastructure Sustainability (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Drinking Water , Water


Sewer pipeline deterioration is the primary cause of sewer accidents that threaten the public health safety. This enormous water infrastructure problem requires a technical solution that can rapidly identify deterioration in a large number of pipelines. The overall goal of this project is to develop a pipeline inspection technology that is based on Q-PCR quantification of bacterial DNA markers. The proposed technology will be rapid and high throughput, which are essential for the efficient rehabilitation of pipelines at sewershed or sewer system level.


In this project, the proposed Q-PCR-based technology will address two specific sewer pipeline problems: FOG deposition and concrete crown corrosion. The working hypothesis is that the pipeline problems are associated with specific microbial processes and the problem severity levels are quantitatively related to the concentrations of specific bacterial DNA markers. The sewer pipeline problems will be simulated in a laboratory sewer system. Bacterial DNA markers indicative of the different sewer pipeline problems will be identified, and Q-PCR methods for the DNA markers will be developed and evaluated.

Expected Results:

The proposed research will identify bacterial DNA markers that are indicators of two common sewer pipeline problems, and Q-PCR methods will be developed for the quantification of the DNA markers in the sewer environment. The specific research activities represent several initial steps toward the development of a Q-PCR technology for the detection of various sewer pipeline problems. The technology will have highly desirable features including rapidness, high throughput, good tractability, and improved reliability. The availability of such a technology would enable municipalities to detect sewer pipeline problems at early stages, improve sewer sustainability, and advance the protection of public health.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 7 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 3 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Sustainability, sewer pipelines, bacterial DNA markers, Q-PCR technology, public health protection,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • Final Report