Microbiology of man-made water systems

This collaboration between WUR and KWR Water Research Institute studies the microbial ecology in engineered water systems to identify factors and control strategies that influence water quality in these systems.

About the project

The discipline “Microbiology of Man-Made Water Systems” studies the interactions of microorganisms with biotic and abiotic factors in man-made water systems with a strong focus on drinking water systems, but it will also include cooling towers, industrial and waste water systems and water systems in horticulture.

Aspects that will be studied are microbial population structure, interactions between microbes and the influence of environmental conditions (e.g. substrate, temperature, hydraulics, materials, and sediment) on biological activity in man-made water systems.


The research aims at controlling undesired and desired microbial processes in man-made water systems. Undesired processes include growth of pathogens, biofilm formation, growth of organisms that cause aesthetic complaints (e.g. animal invertebrates, brown water, and taste/odour) and microbial induced corrosion. Desired processes include biodegradation of undesired compounds (e.g. biodegradable organic carbon and contaminants of emerging concern) during biological water treatment.