Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016CA361B

Metagenomic Analysis of Groundwater Wells for Risk Assessment and Development of Intervention Strategies to Improve Water Efficacy

Institute: California
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $10,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $5,500

Principal Investigators: Clarissa Noble

Abstract: California uses approximately 15 billion gallons of groundwater per day, more than any other state in the United States. Currently, groundwater accounts for about half of California’s water supply. Biofilms formed in groundwater wells pose two potentially serious hazards to the state’s drinking water. First, these biofilms may produce toxins that can directly affect human health. Second, these biofilms could overgrow, leading to biofouling issues that can ultimately cause reduced production or complete loss of a groundwater well. Both of these issues are directly related to the composition of microbes within the biofilm of the groundwater well. We propose to analyze the biofilm metagenomes of several groundwater wells to look for enrichment of predicted biosynthetic gene clusters that we deem likely to adversely affect water drinkability and/or production. This list of genes will be created based on the putative function of the gene cluster and by correlating the gene cluster with “problem wells,” which we define as wells with impacted water quality, or with reduced production due to biofouling. Our goals are twofold: 1) to determine the correlation between these gene clusters and the chemical signatures of the wells so that risk can be assessed through routine chemical monitoring and 2) to develop targeted intervention strategies to alleviate risks when identified in order to ensure a safe and reliable drinking water supply.