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BIOFILMS IN DRINKING WATER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS
Meckes*, M C. BIOFILMS IN DRINKING WATER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS. Chapter 13, Clark, R.M. and Boutin, B.K. (ed.), Controlling Disinfection By-Products and Microbial Contaminants in Drinking Water (EPA/600/R-01/110). USEPA, Cincinnati, OH, (2002).
Virtually anywhere a surface comes into contact with the water in a distribution system, one can find biofilms. Biofilms are formed in distribution system pipelines when microbial cells attach to pipe surfaces and multiply to form a film or slime layer on the pipe. Probably within seconds of entering the distribution system, large particles, including microorganisms, adsorb to the clean pipe surface. Some microorganisms can adhere directly to the pipe surface via appendages that extend from the cell membrane; other bacteria form a capsular material of extracellular polysaccharides, sometimes called a glycocalyx, that anchors the bacteria to the pipe surface. The organisms make advantage of the macromolecules attched to the pipe surface for protection and nourishment. The wate flowing past carries nutrients (carbon-containing molecules, as well as other elements) that are essential for the organisms' survival and growth.