New microbial tools enable detailed quantification and characterization of complex drinking water (DW) microbiomes. Many opportunities exist from source to tap to apply this knowledge toward management of the microbiology. This requires consideration of the microbiome continuum across all phases harboring microbes (planktonic cells, biofilms, and cells attached to loose deposits) and across all stages (source, treatment, distribution, and premise). Biofilters can be optimized toward specific compound removal and can seed the distribution network (DN) with beneficial bacteria. Disinfection aggressively controls the microbiome, but may select for unwanted bacteria. Within premise plumbing, dramatic changes occur with unavoidable stagnation and pipe material influence. To supply safe DW sustainably, it is imperative that the field progress from characterization toward management of the DW microbiome.
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