Phosphate is added to drinking water by UK water companies as a treatment to prevent the corrosion and metal leaching, like lead, in pipes. However, phosphate is a nutrient for microorganisms, and it can favour biofilm formation in Drinking Water Distribution Systems (DWDS), which can alter the water quality and safety. This study analyses the effect of phosphate addition on biofilm formation over different materials and its consequences for drinking water quality by i) using controlled experimental pipeline facility representative of a real-scale DWDS with high-density polyethylene coupons and ii) using a small-scale DWDS biofilm reactors with lead coupons. Biofilms developed over one month were exposed to the effect of different phosphate dosing and compare with UK normal water phosphate concentrations. During the experiment, physico-chemical analysis of water and microbial analysis of biofilms was carried out. Sequencing analysis of the 16s rRNA gene, from extracted DNA obtained from biofilms, provided information on any bacterial changes, and Scanning Electron Microscopy gave information about the biofilm organization. The results indicate that microorganisms find more difficult to establish and develop biofilms under high phosphate dosing, resulting in biofilms with less cells. Also, some physico-chemical parameter seems to be affected by phosphate dosing, like chlorine and lead. It is expected that differences in the biofilm community will be found depending on phosphate dosing. This study will provide information on the effect of phosphate on biofilm development in different pipes materials, which will facilitate to adjust an optimal phosphate dose to prevent plumbosolvency in DWDS.


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