Abstract Over the past two decades, the amount of reclaimed water has increased throughout the world to face the current water shortage, and as a consequence there is an increasing interest to develop good indicators of water quality, beyond the traditional fecal indicators. In order to meet this need, in this work the microbial profiles of different wastewater treatment plant effluents, both secondary and tertiary, were studied and compared with water samples from an uncontaminated natural aquifer. Taking into account the most abundant phylogenetic groups found in these water samples, we calculated the Bacteroidetes, Gammaproteobacteria and Nitrospira/Betaproteobacteria (BGN:β) ratio and found significant differences between the mean ratios of the four water qualities. The secondary effluent ratios were never below 1.3 and the tertiary effluent and groundwater ratios were never over 0.85. Furthermore, calculation of this index with previous published data supports our results and indicates that the BGN:β ratio is a possible alternative indicator of water quality.