Source Molecular Discusses Digital PCR Technology at AWRA 2018

Source Molecular Corporation gave a presentation about Digital PCR technology at the 53rd Annual Water Resources Conference hosted by the American Water Resources Association (AWRA). The event was held from November 4 to 8, 2018, at the Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland.

Daron Stein, Source Molecular’s Global Head of Business Development, was one of the speakers in the session about Detection of New and Emerging Contaminants. He talked about Finding and Reducing Bacteria at the Source with Droplet Digital PCR.

The Droplet Digital PCR technology was initially developed for health applications. Now, it is also being used to track sources of contamination and detect high-risk pathogens threatening multiple beneficial uses of their water resources. As a result, it enhances water quality by filling data gaps on pollution sources.

The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) routinely monitors fecal coliform in shellfish harvesting waters year round while local health departments collect water samples at bathing beaches during the summer. A couple of years ago, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) found high levels of fecal matter in streams and rivers in big cities as well as some suburban and rural areas. CBF tested about 40 Maryland streams and rivers throughout five Maryland counties. This year, the Healthy Harbor Initiative reported that the levels of fecal bacteria in Baltimore streams fell dramatically compared to last year. Although the improvement could be linked to lower rainfall last year, they also credited Baltimore City’s and Baltimore County’s efforts to rehabilitate decrepit sewer systems.

Mr. Stein notes that Digital PCR tells water managers not only the source of fecal pollution but also exactly how much fecal bacteria is in the water. Bacteria source identification is important because it can help water managers address the water quality problem better. Monitoring fecal indicator bacteria is not enough since it does not distinguish between human and non-human sources. To know more about Digital PCR and its application to bacteria source tracking projects, contact Mr. Stein at

Other technical sessions at the conference included global issues such as coastal resilience, communication and outreach strategies and integrated water resources. The event also tackled local topics such as the Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware River watershed and eastern water law.