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When fuel is storaged in large tanks it is common to form a layer of water in the bottom. The origin of water can be from condensation, rain, natural passageways in rock etc. When there is a layer of water in the bottom of a fuel storage container there will evetually be microbial activity in the water layer. Microbes use the hydrocarbons of fuel as carbon source and gradually form visible quantity of biomass.
While fuel is used this microbial mass can block filters and stop fuel flow to the engine. In worst cases a total blockage can occur at couple of hours of operation in using a heavy diesel engine.