Combined chemical-biological treatment for prevention/rehabilitation of clogged wells by an iron-oxidizing bacterium

Efrat Gino, Jeanna Starosvetsky, Eyal Kurzbaum, Robert Armon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Groundwater wells containing large concentrations of ferrous iron face serious clogging problems as a result of biotic iron oxidation. Following a short time after their start off, wells get clogged, and their production efficiency drop significantly up to a total obstruction, making cleanup and rehabilitation an economic burden. The present study was undertaken to test an experimental combined treatment (chemical and biological) for future prevention or rehabilitation of clogged wells. Sphaerotilus natans (an iron-oxidizing bacterium) freshly isolated from a deep well was grown to form biofilms on two systems: coupons and sand buried miniature wedge wire screen baskets. A combined chemical-biological treatment, applied at laboratory scale by use of glycolic acid (2%) and isolated bacteriophages against Sphaerotilus natans (SN1 and ER1-a newly isolated phage) at low multiplicity of infection (MOI), showed inhibition of biofilm formation and inactivation of the contaminant bacteria. In addition to complete inactivation of S. natans planktonic bacteria by the respective phages, earlier biofilm treatment with reduced glycolic acid concentration revealed efficient exopolysaccharide (EPS) digestion allowing phages to be increasingly efficient against biofilm matrix bacteria. Utilization of this combined treatment revealed clean surfaces of a model stainless steel wedge wire screen baskets (commonly used in wells) for up to 60 days.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3123-3129
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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