You might want to drink a lot of water from here on. A glass of clean drinking water contains about 10 million good bacteria, a new study revealed.

Swedish researchers have found that good drinking water is cleansed by millions of good bacteria found in water pipes and purification industries. The information about these bacteria was not clearly known until now.

In a study published in the journal Microbes and Environments, researchers from Lund University have noted that these microscopic bacteria may grow in water treatment plants and water pipes. They are harmless and, in the process of proliferation, they form a thin coating called biofilm inside the pipes.

The researchers have discovered that the varieties of bacterial species in water pipes are enormous and that the bacteria play an important role that has never been explored in the past.

In fact, they suggest that the majority of purification actually takes place in the pipes and not in these purification plants.

"A previously completely unknown ecosystem has revealed itself to us," Catherine Paul of Lund University said.

"Formerly, you could hardly see any bacteria at all and now, thanks to techniques such as massive DNA sequencing and flow cytometry, we suddenly see eighty thousand bacteria per milliliter in drinking water," she added.

She worked with other co-researchers Katharina Lührig, Peter Rådström, Kenneth Persson, Björn Canbäck and Tomas Johansson.

They added that the findings shed light on the role of biofilms in the purification of drinking water, and bacteria that thrive in water pipes contribute largely to water quality. The researchers think that the "good bacteria" present in drinking water help in keeping it safe and clean. They specifically found that Sphingomonas, a type of good bacteria, are found in clean and quality water.

This type of bacteria can consume or absorb undesirable organic material and toxic chemicals. Chlorine, a substance used to kill bacteria in water, can't hurt good bacteria found in biofilms. In fact, the researchers suggest that these bacteria actually contribute to the smell and taste of water, making it a refreshing thirst quencher.

Though the study was conducted in Sweden, biofilms are found all over the world. There are also bacteria that are harmless but can show when there is something wrong with the water. For example, they can signal that the water pipes are beginning to rust or the chlorine content of water is not sufficient enough to keep the water clean.

The researchers added that the study can help countries looking to improve their water pipe systems by showing how water quality can be controlled by maintaining the growth of good bacteria that further help in the purification process.

Photo: Gunnar Grimnes | Flickr 

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