Optimizing the Removal of Natural Organic Matter in Drinking Water While Avoiding Unintended Consequences Following Coagulation
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Over the past decade, the objectives for coagulation based drinking water treatment processes have changed significantly. These changes are a result of stringent goals related to natural organic matter (NOM) removal to mitigate the formation of subsequent harmful and health-related disinfection by-products (DBPs) and the need to achieve adequate filtration performance to ensure sufficient particle removal for pathogen control. Another concern associated with coagulation optimization is the potential unintended consequences of a coagulant change on the distribution system, specifically related to lead release from lead pipe and solder materials. Optimizing these multi-objectives in a direct filtration treatment process presents significant challenges for source waters characterized by low levels of turbidity, alkalinity and organic matter content. Bench and pilot-scale experiments were conducted to evaluate the performance of ferric sulfate, polyaluminum chloride (PACl) and aluminum chlorohydrate (ACH) against aluminum sulfate (alum) using variable coagulation dosage and pH conditions for a direct filtration facility. Bench-scale experiments were conducted to optimize NOM removal during coagulation using traditional organic matter surrogates coupled with molecular size characterization techniques. Pilot-scale studies provided a snapshot of feasibility in terms of filtration performance for favourable bench-scale conditions and also identified optimal conditions for filtration performance. Results from pilot testing demonstrated that favourable conditions identified for increased potential NOM removals during bench-scale testing were significantly different than optimal filtration conditions identified during pilot studies; and, in fact, severely compromised direct filtration performance due to increased solids loading to the filters. Bench-scale experiments evaluated lead leaching from lead and lead:tin solder galvanically connected to copper under stagnant conditions using variable chloride-to-sulfate mass ratio (CSMR) conditions for alum, ferric sulfate and PACl. Although recent research identifies high CSMRs (>0.5) as the main mechanism of attack in distribution systems following coagulant changeovers, CSMR was not the primary catalyst for lead leaching following the coagulant changeover conditions evaluated in this study. Residual concentrations of iron and aluminum remaining following coagulation were the principal contributors. Positive correlations were revealed between particulate iron and particulate lead concentrations following stagnation demonstrating that the adsorption of lead to iron oxides is a viable hypothesis for lead release.