22-27 September 2019
Trade Fairs and Congress Center (FYCMA)
Europe/Madrid timezone

Real-time indication of faecally contaminated drinking water with fluorescence spectroscopy: towards understanding the causation

26 Sep 2019, 15:45
Conference room 1.A ()

Conference room 1.A

Oral Topic 5 - Tools, methods and models to study groundwater Parallel


James Sorensen (British Geological Survey)


Two billion people still consume drinking water contaminated with faeces. To improve this situation, it has been recognised by UNICEF and the WHO that a more rapid approach to detecting faecally contaminated drinking water is necessary. We have previously demonstrated that fluorescence spectroscopy is a significant real-time indicator of the presence/absence and number of faecal indicator bacteria in drinking waters in low-income countries of the tropics. We have also established its potential as an online indicator of faecal contamination of public water supplies in the UK. Outstanding questions remain, however, over the source of the fluorescence and its uniqueness to faecal-indicator bacteria. To address these, we sampled potable groundwater supplies in Kenya, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda across an urbanisation transect from rural Malawi through to the city of Dakar (Senegal) where pollution sources and pressures vary considerably. We report on whether the fluorescence signal in these sources is intracellular or extracellular and, in Senegal and Uganda, the ability of fluorescence spectroscopy to predict total bacteria cells and faecal-indicator bacteria.

Primary authors

James Sorensen (British Geological Survey) Dr Daniel Olago (University of Nairobi) Dr Simeon Dulo (University of Nairobi) Japhet Kanoti (University of Nairobi) Cheikh Gaye (Universite Cheikh Anta Diop) Seynabou Cisse Faye (Universite Cheikh Anta Diop) Abdoulaye Pouye (Universite Cheikh Anta Diop) Michael Owor (Makerere University) Jacintha Nayebare (Makerere University) Robinah Kulabako (Makerere University) Dan Lapworth (British Geological Survey) Gloria Gwengweya (University of Malawi) Dan Read (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) Jade Ward (British Geological Survey & University of Surrey) Richard Taylor (University College London)

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