Ready for Transfer

Techniques for Monitoring Public Water Supply

Dept. of Health and Human Services

Laboratory: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Technology: Monitoring Public Water Supply for a Variety of Pathogens

Opportunity: The CDC Technology Transfer Office (TTO) is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize a system to monitor water supplies for a variety of pathogens.

Details: The simultaneous concentration and recovery of microbes in drinking water is important when responding to potential water-related events such as pathogen contamination or bioterrorism, and could be a cost-effective technique for routinely monitoring drinking water quality. Scientists at the CDC have combined two techniques, ultrafiltration (UF) and insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP), in series to achieve significant concentration of microbes and pathogens for analysis. UF can concentrate a water sample ≥200x, depending on turbidity; if a secondary concentration step is applied, then a ≥25,000x can be achieved. Research has shown that UF can be an effective technique for simultaneously concentrating viruses, bacteria, and parasites in larger samples of drinking water. A second technique, the iDEP system, captures, concentrates, and separates microbes in very small water samples. The combination of UF with iDEP holds the potential promise for water utilities and associated industries to accurately detect low levels of pathogens in drinking water samples. This technology has the capability to separate live from nonviable microbes, thereby decreasing the chances of generating false-positive PCR results due to the presence of free nucleic acid or nonviable microbes.


  • A rapid method for detecting the presence of a variety of microbes such as Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts and Enterococcus faecalis
  • Uses a combination of ultrafiltration and dielectrophoretic separation techniques versus available single method technology
  • Ability to separate live from nonviable microbes, thereby decreasing the chances of generating false-positive PCR results due to the presence of naked nucleic acid or nonviable microbes
  • Accurately assess low levels of pathogens in finished drinking water samples, whether due to natural or intentional contamination


  • Monitoring of municipal, commercial, public, and individual water supplies for drinking water quality
  • Monitoring source water, industrial effluent, hospital discharge, and military water infrastructures for pathogens
  • Assessing water in agricultural settings
  • Monitoring water quality in pools and other recreational settings

Contact: For collaboration opportunities, please contact CDC TTO at or 1-404-639-1330.

To view the original CDC technology listing on the NIH website, visit