A 7-year scientific study has revealed that microbial communities in urban waterways can play an important role in cleansing Singapore’s waterways and also act as raw water quality indicators.

The study found that canals designed to channel stormwater host microbial communities that could remove and neutralize organic pollutants, nutrients, and metals in raw water. Organic pollutants are currently at trace levels in raw water, well below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards, and are removed during water treatment processes.

Researchers from the NUS Environmental Research Institute and the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering at Nanyang Technological University have discovered that the untapped natural ability of microbial communities could be harnessed to treat raw water even before undergoing treatment.

The study, published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology, was conducted around the Ulu Pandan catchment area in collaboration with the Singapore’s national water agency, PUB. Read more.