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Takeaways from AWWA’s ACE19

Last month I attended the American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exhibition in Denver. There was a lot to learn with so many technical presentations, workshops, and trade show booths, so I figured I would highlight some of my key takeaways from the conference.

1. Top Trend

Given the size of the conference, it’s difficult to pick a single top trend. The problems associated with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are gaining more attention, as there were several technical sessions dedicated to the monitoring and treatment of these persistent synthetic chemicals. The use of big-data also continues to gain traction as technologies become more sophisticated.

In terms of microbiological water quality, research related to building water quality, specifically Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease, continues to grow. This is not surprising, given that the number of reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been continually increasing over the last 20 years and Legionella is now one of the most common causes of outbreaks in public water systems. Given the complexity of water systems in which Legionella thrive and the means by which they spread, it can be a daunting task to prevent their growth and reduce associated risks.

Takeaway: Effective building water management plans are critical for reducing risks associated with Legionella. For more information about how ATP can be used as part of a Legionella monitoring program, see our Legionella monitoring solutions.

2. Top Thing I Learned

Not surprisingly, there was a lot to learn! I am a bit biased, but one new concept that I found particularly interesting was a new approach for using 2nd Generation ATP testing for monitoring biofiltration performance. As part of a Water Research Foundation study, researchers have found that biofilm formation rate tests can provide an indicator of the water’s biostability and that the results correlated with DOC removal. The test is relatively straightforward to perform. Two pipe loops are set-up, each containing a polycarbonate coupon. One loop is supplied water from the filter influent and the other is supplied from the filter effluent. Following an incubation time, the ATP of the biofilm on each coupon is measured. The difference in biofilm formation rate between the two coupons is indicative of the increase in biostability following treatment. Moreover, correlation was observed between the influent biofilm formation rate and DOC removal.

Takeaway: LuminUltra’s 2nd Generation ATP® testing can be used in various ways for monitoring biofiltration. See our application note demonstrating how LuminUltra’s 2nd Generation ATP® can be used for monitoring biomass in a biologically active filter.

3. Top Question

One topic that generated quite a bit of interest was our new GeneCount® DNA product line. Most often, the first question would be “how can I use it in my system?” Of course, that will depend entirely on the user, their system characteristics, and the types of challenges that they might be facing, but DNA testing is a powerful tool that can be used in a variety of applications. This could include qPCR testing to monitor Legionella, or NGS testing to determine the community composition in a biofilter or a corrosion deposit to determine if microorganisms associated with microbiologically influenced corrosion are present. This tool can be powerful for a wide range of monitoring, from source to tap.

Takeaway: DNA testing is an exciting new tool that is gaining in popularity in the water sector. To learn a bit more about how it can be used for microbiological monitoring or troubleshooting in your system, be sure to check out our GeneCount® product line.


Brad Mcilwain

Brad McIlwain has over eight years of experience in the water and wastewater industry. Prior to joining LuminUltra, he worked for several years as a consulting engineer, where he helped solve complex water and wastewater treatment process issues. He has a particular interest in water system corrosion. During his Master’s, his research focused on water quality and corrosion in premise plumbing. Brad enjoys being outdoors, spending as many weekends as possible camping, hiking, and cycling.

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