From Source to Tap: Tracking Microbial Diversity in a Riverbank Filtration-Based Drinking Water Supply System under Changing Hydrological Regimes – Vargha, M.; Róka, E.; Erdélyi, N.; Németh, K.; Nagy-Kovács, Z.; Kós, P.B.; Engloner, A.I… Diversity, 2023, 15:621.
In drinking water supply, riverbank filtration (RBF) is an efficient and cost-effective way of eliminating pathogens and micropollutants using a combination of biotic and abiotic processes. Microbial communities in the hyporheic zone both contribute to and are shaped by these processes. Microbial water quality at the point of consumption is in turn influenced by the source water microbiome, water treatment and distribution system. Understanding microbial community shifts from source to tap and the factors behind them is instrumental in maintaining safe drinking water delivery. To this end, microbial communities of an RBF-based drinking water supply system were investigated by metabarcoding in a one-year sampling campaign. Samples were collected from the river, RBF wells, treated water, and a consumer’s tap. Metabarcoding data were analysed in the context of physicochemical and hydrological parameters. Microbial diversity as well as cell count decreased consistently from the surface water to the tap. While Proteobacteria were dominant throughout the water supply system, typical river water microbiome phyla Bacteroidota, Actinobacteria, and Verrucomicrobiota were replaced by Nitrospira, Patescibacteria, Chloroflexi, Acidobacteriota, Methylomicrobilota, and the archaeal phylum Nanoarcheota in well water. Well water communities were differentiated by water chemistry, in wells with high concentration groundwater derived iron, manganese, and sulphate, taxa related to iron and sulphur biogeochemical cycle were predominant, while methane oxidisers characterised the more oxic wells. Chlorine-resistant and filtration-associated taxa (Acidobacteria, Firmicutes, and Bdellovibrionota) emerged after water treatment, and no potentially pathogenic taxa were identified at the point of consumption. River discharge had a distinct impact on well water microbiome indicative of vulnerability to climate change. Low flow conditions were characterised by anaerobic heterotrophic taxa (Woesarchaeales, Aenigmarchaeales, and uncultured bacterial phyla MBNT15 and WOR-1), implying reduced efficiency in the degradation of organic substances. High flow was associated the emergence of typical surface water taxa. Better understanding of microbial diversity in RBF water supply systems contributes to preserving drinking water safety in the future changing environment.