Legionella monitoring results by water quality characteristics in a large public water system

Jessie A. Gleason, Robert Newby, John J. Gaynor, Lee H. Lee, Tinchun Chu, Alorah D. Bliese, Calvin W. Taylor, Paul Yoon, Suzanne DeLorenzo, David Pranitis, Joe Bella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Legionella, the causative agent of Legionnaires’ disease, is an emerging concern for water utilities. Passaic Valley Water Commission (PVWC) is a public drinking water supplier, which provides treated surface water to approximately 800,000 customers in New Jersey. To evaluate the occurrence of Legionella in the PVWC distribution system, swab, first draw, and flushed cold water samples were collected from total coliform sites (n = 58) during a summer and winter sampling event. Endpoint PCR detection methods were combined with culture for Legionella detection. Among 58 total coliform sites during the summer, 17.2% (10/58) of first draw samples were positive for 16S and mip Legionella DNA markers and 15.5% (9/58) in flushed samples. Across both summer and winter sampling, a total of four out of 58 sites had low-level culture detection of Legionella spp. (0.5–1.6 CFU/mL) among first draw samples. Only one site had both a first and flush draw detection (8.5 CFU/mL and 1.1 CFU/mL) for an estimated culture detection frequency of 0% in the summer and 1.7% in the winter among flushed draw samples. No L. pneumophila was detected by culture. Legionella DNA detection was significantly greater in the summer than in the winter, and detection was greater in samples collected from areas treated with phosphate. No statistical difference was found between first draw and flush sample detection. Total organic carbon, copper, and nitrate were significantly associated with Legionella DNA detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55974-55988
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number19
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Community water
  • Legionella
  • Public water
  • Water utility


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