Kaplan, L.A., D.J. Reasoner, and E.W. Rice. 1994. Journal of the American Water Works Association 86(2):121–132.
Bacteria that pose a public health threat through their potential regrowth in water distribution systems derive energy and carbon for their growth from biodegradable organic matter. Three methods for determining biodegradable organic matter — which is necessary if the process of bacterial regrowth is to be fully understood — were compared in this study of a broad range of US drinking waters and treatment processes: the assimilable organic carbon (AOC) assay, the biodegradable dissolved organic carbon (BDOC) assay, and the coliform growth response (CGR). The source of water — surface water versus groundwater — had a strong influence on AOC and BDOC. The correlations between AOC and BDOC, between AOC and dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and between BDOC and DOC were statistically significant. CGR did not correlate well with either AOC or BDOC. The authors caution that these data are limited and urge increased focus on individual systems.