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Biofouling in Water Wells

Ground Water Hydrology

  1. Stuart A. Smith

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.gw76

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Smith, S. A. 2005. Biofouling in Water Wells. Water Encyclopedia. 5:35–38.

Author Information

  1. Smith-Comeskey Groundwater Science LLC, Upper Sandusky, Ohio

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Biofouling as a term has its origins in pre-World War II studies of marine fouling and generally refers to coating, encrustation, and corrosion associated with the attachment of organisms to surfaces, including human-engineered structures. The phenomenon arises from the tendency of life across all known kingdoms to cling to and use surfaces. Biofouling takes many forms, ranging from bacterial-viral films plaguing urinary tracts to fouling of water intakes and other maritime structures (and even baleen whales) by films that also include macroorganisms such as barnacles and zebra mussels.

Biofouling of water wells and associated downstream systems tends to result from the formation of biofilms by bacteria. It is now widely recognized that biofouling is the first or second most costly deteriorating factor for groundwater systems in North America.


  • biofouling;
  • biocorrosion;
  • water wells;
  • biofilms;
  • microbial ecology;
  • biogeochemistry