The microbiological quality of drinking water in municipal water distribution systems (WDS) depends on several factors. Free residual chlorine and/or chloramines are typically used to minimize bacterial recontamination and/or regrowth in WDS. Despite such preventive measures, regrowth of heterotrophic (HPC) and opportunistic bacteria in bulk water and biofilms has yet to be controlled completely. No approach has shown complete success in eliminating biofilms or HPC bacteria from bulk water and pipe surfaces. Biofilms can provide shelter for pathogenic bacteria and protect these bacteria from disinfectants. Some HPC bacteria may be associated with aesthetic and non-life threatening diseases. Research to date has achieved important success in understanding occurrence and regrowth of bacteria in bulk water and biofilms in WDS. To achieve comprehensive understanding and to provide efficient control against bacteria regrowth, future research on bacteria regrowth dynamics and their implications is warranted. In this study, a review was performed on the literature published in this area. The findings and limitations of these papers are summarized. Occurrences of bacteria in WDS, factors affecting bacteria regrowth in bulk water and biofilms, bacteria control strategies, sources of nutrients, human health risks from bacterial exposure, modelling of bacteria regrowth and methods of bacteria sampling and detection and quantification are investigated. Advances to date are noted, and future research needs are identified. Finally, research directions are proposed to effectively control HPC and opportunistic bacteria in bulk water and biofilms in WDS.