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SVGW endorses flow cytometry for water quality monitoring




The Swiss Association for Gas and Water (SVGW) plays a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of global water quality and the future of water quality monitoring. In an era where precision and efficiency are paramount, the Swiss Association for Gas and Water (SVGW) has endorsed the Flow Cytometry Method (FCM) for assessing total cell count in water samples. This innovative approach, which bNovate has implemented since its inception, will redefine industry standards for water monitoring in Switzerland and globally.


SVGW is helping shape the future of water monitoring


The SVGW has embraced international standards (such as the EN or ISO guidelines) after replacing the Swiss Codex in 2017. Thus, drinking water quality is governed by federal ordinances and the standardised cultivation methods described in the ISO. This transition marks SVGW’s commitment to staying at the forefront of advancements in water quality monitoring. A core initiative was to integrate the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) framework into food regulations and ensure online parameters, such as FCM, can be used for real-time control.


The heart of SGVW’s approval of FCM lies in its ability to accurately determine the total cell count (TCC) in water samples. Unlike conventional methods, the FCM provides real-time insights into raw water conditions, treatment efficacy, and potential contaminants throughout the water distribution network. 


Flow cytometry is one of the most significant microbiological drinking water analysis advancements. This transformative technique has proven effective in industries like drinking water and the pharmaceutical industry. SVGW’s rigorous evaluation process within the “Method Platform” working group cements the FCM’s status as a reliable and innovative solution and its entry into the SVGW collection of methods. 


No one-size-fits-all: tailored assessments with the FCM


In MW102, SVGW outlines all the steps necessary for successful implementation of FCM in water monitoring: the equipment needed and the settings of the flow cytometer, the sample preparation, the sample staining and measurement, and the data analysis. At the same time, SVGW recognises each water supply system is unique. 


One of the strengths of the FCM is its flexibility. Unlike one-size-fits-all solutions, SVGW doesn’t impose universally applicable limits for the total cell count. This strategic choice allows for a better understanding of individual systems. It emphasises the importance of trend monitoring over isolated measurements. The flow cytometry method empowers water suppliers, enforcement authorities, and other stakeholders with a tool to understand and address the specific needs of their systems.


Online flow cytometry: SVGW’s commitment to real-time monitoring


The SVGW has developed an industry solution compliant with Swiss food regulations for the water supply sector. This includes the SVGW guidelines W12 directive about good practices for water supplies and W4 directive for water distribution, which are practical tools for self-control in drinking water supplies. Online flow cytometry is one of seven recommended parameters for continuously monitoring water quality at critical control points (CCP). By definition, manual samples (i.e. microbial lab analysis) can’t fulfil the requirements of a CCP. This makes the total cell count, measured with online flow cytometry, the only microbial parameter recommended for CCPs. The guidelines further extend the applicability of flow cytometry surveillance from raw water assessment through treatment processes to distribution. It exclusively recommends using flow cytometry to monitor stagnation and microbial growth in the network. These comprehensive guidelines align with national and global food safety standards and elevate drinking water monitoring safety to a new level, with flow cytometry playing a pivotal role in proactive risk surveillance and control. 


bNovate and our online flow cytometer


Commercially available flow cytometers endorsed by SVGW, like BactoSense, are paving the way for continuous, automated monitoring. 


Since 2011, bNovate has become a partner in microbiological excellence. We stand out because we don’t just sell instruments. We deliver peace of mind through automated bacterial measurement. As Head of Inspection and Online Analytics at IWB, Pascal Brand says, “We’ve been using several BactoSenses for the last five years in our groundwater wells. In addition to having our water monitored continuously and reliably, the instruments are easy to use and need very little maintenance. We plan to equip further extraction points with BactoSense.” 


Safety isn’t just a word for us. It’s our end goal. That’s why we offer a variety of solutions, such as BactoSense and BactoSense Multi, since we know safety isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. We have developed them to automate sample preparation, measurement, and analysis, ensuring reliable results. With BactoSense, there’s no need for calibration, and the solution fits the requirements of the MW102. This way, we simplify the processes and handling for water professionals. We also minimise risk and increase safety by looking at the individual needs from industry to industry and person to person. It’s how we can ensure confidence in every drop.


Concluding with water quality as a non-negotiable

SVGW’s approval of the flow cytometry method (FCM) is a game changer. There’s a revolution underway. By setting the standard for water quality monitoring globally, we help to ensure water safety for everyone. Embrace the future of water testing with bNovate by contacting us



You can read the full details of SVGW’s FCM endorsement here. Please note it’s only available in German.



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