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Public Health Risk

Management Plan
Guide
Filtration
Slow Sand Filtration
Version 1, Ref P6.2

February 2002

Published in February 2002 by


Ministry of Health
PO Box 5013, Wellington, New Zealand
ISBN: 0-478-27026-7 (Booklet)
ISBN: 0-478-27029-1 (Internet)
This document is available on the Ministry of Healths Web
site:
http://www.moh.govt.nz

Contents
Introduction
Risk Summary
Risk Information Table
Contingency Plans
PHRMP Performance Assessment

Ref P6.2
Public Health Risk Management Plan Guide:
Version 1, February 2002
Filtration Slow Sand Filtration

iii

Introduction
Slow sand filtration can be used to remove germs, particles and natural
organic matter from water. These contaminants are the concern of this
Guide. Slow sand filtration can also remove compounds that cause
tastes and odours, but these are not considered here.
Slow sand filters are simple to construct and operate, and do not require
the use of chemicals. The top layer of the filter, which contains dirt, and
living and dead organisms, is mainly responsible for removing
contaminants from the water. Slow sand filters have been shown to be
good at removing germs, including Giardia cysts. They are poor at
removing colour from water. It is important to disinfect the filtered
water before use, however, because some of the organisms living in the
sand may be carried into the filtered water.
If an event occurs during the operation of the slow sand filter (ie, the
process doesnt work properly), the following could happen:

if particles are not removed, sickness can come from larger germs
not being removed

if natural organic matter is not removed, it reacts with the


disinfectant and can cause sickness from germs not being killed,
and from disinfection by-products.

Slow sand filter operation can present risks to the health and safety of
the operators. These are acknowledged, but are not discussed further
as such risks are the subject of health and safety in employment
legislation.
The quality of the water produced by slow sand filtration will affect how
well any following disinfection works. How well the filters work depends
on:

Raw water quality (see Guide S1.1):

Pre-treatment (see the P1 and P4 series of Guides):

processes removing particles, eg, sedimentation, can be used,


so long as they do not require coagulation.

Filter operation:

slow sand filters are easily clogged and need raw waters with
low concentrations of algae and other particles (turbidities
less than 15-20 NTU1).

filters have to be cleaned from time to time by scraping off


the top layer

NTU nephelometric turbidity units.

Ref P6.2
Public Health Risk Management Plan Guide:
Version 1, December 2001Treatment Processes Slow sand filtration

Filter design:

after cleaning, water quality may not be at its best for several
hours or days. This is the time needed for living organisms to
grow on top of the filter again
the filter works best after its been cleaned a few times.
water coming into the filter must not disturb the sand
the slower water passes through the filter, the better the
water quality.

Public Health Risk Management Plan Guide:


Ref P6.2
Filtration Slow Sand Filtration
Version 1, February 2002

Risk Summary
The event creating the greatest risk involved in slow sand filtration is
poor removal of particles (see P6.2.1).
The most important preventive measures are:

to make sure the raw water quality is suitable for the filter (see
P6.2.1.1)

to carry out cleaning of the filter correctly (see P6.2.1.4).

(References in parentheses are to the Risk Information Table.)

Ref P6.2
Public Health Risk Management Plan Guide:
Version 1, December 2001Treatment Processes Slow sand filtration

Risk Information Table


Reliable information about raw water quality is essential for the proper
management of a water supply. Knowledgeable and skilled staff are also
essential for minimising the public health risks associated with water
supplies. Please read the staff training (Guide G1) and the monitoring
guides (Guide G2). While we havent pointed out every detail of how
these documents are linked with the present document, the links are
many and are important.
Abbreviations: DWSNZ Drinking-Water Standards for New Zealand.
Causes

Preventive
measures

Checking preventive measures


What to check

Corrective action

Signs that action


is needed

Event: PARTICLES NOT REMOVED


Possible hazards: Germs not removed (particularly Giardia and Cryptosporidium).
Level of risk: High1

P6.2.1.1
Raw water
quality too
poor for the
filter to treat.

Monitor raw
water quality to
determine when
the filter should
be by-passed or
treatment turned
off.

Raw water
quality.

Particle
counts in
water leaving
the filter.

P6.2.1.2
Incorrect flow
rates.

Adjust

inlet/outlet valves
to balance flow
rate according to
the standard
operating
procedures for
the filter.

Microscopic
particle
analysis of
water leaving
the filter.

Raw water
turbidity is
more than 20
NTU.

Noncompliance with
Section 3.2.3.1
of
DWSNZ:2000.

UFRVs2 are
unstable
(indicates a
possible
problem with
the way the
filter is
operating).

Flow rates are


more than
0.2 m/h.

Head loss rate


increases
rapidly.

Noncompliance with
Section 3.2.3.1
of
DWSNZ:2000.

Volume of
water passing
through the
filter before it
needs to be
cleaned
UFRV.2
Flow rates.

Reassess
whether this
treatment is
suitable for the
typical raw
water quality.
Plan for source
development or
pre-treatment.

Review
standard
operating
procedures.

The consequence of the event, and therefore the level of risk, will be influenced by the quality of
the source water and the type and effectiveness of any disinfection after slow sand filtration.

Unit Filter Run Volume.

Public Health Risk Management Plan Guide:


Ref P6.2
Filtration Slow Sand Filtration
Version 1, February 2002

Causes

Preventive
measures

Checking preventive measures


What to check

Corrective action

Signs that action


is needed

Event: PARTICLES NOT REMOVED contd


P6.2.1.3

Protect filter
from high
turbidity waters
and high levels of
algae.

Provide an
adequate time
after cleaning for
the schmutzdecke
to re-establish.

Schmutzdecke
3
is immature
or ineffective.

P6.2.1.4

Incorrect or
unsuitable
cleaning
procedures.

Follow sitespecific
procedures for
correct cleaning.

Use protective
boards when
walking on the
filter bed.

Limit sand
removal to the
top 23 cm.

When operating
filters in tandem
ensure that
alternation of the
flow between the
two filters is
balanced (to
avoid organic
matter
penetrating the
filter bed and
rotting).

P6.2.1.5
Development
of oxygendeficient
conditions in
the filter bed.

Ensure newly
matured beds
receive a regular
flow of water to
maintain their
biological
characteristics.

Avoid build up of
biological (eg,
algae)and
particulate matter
in the filter bed.

Particle
counts in
water leaving
the filter.

Abnormally
slow
development of
headloss.

Microscopic
particle
analysis of
water leaving
the filter.

Noncompliance with
Section 3.2.3.1
of
DWSNZ:2000.

Filter
headloss.

Measurement
of sand depth
removal
pattern at
regular
intervals

during
cleaning
process.

Length of
flow cycles
through the
two filter
beds.

Condition of
filter beds.

Reassess
whether this
treatment is
suitable for the
typical raw
water quality.
Assess how
filter can be
better protected
from poor water
quality, and
implement
changes.

Review
standard
operating
procedures.

Change to
alternate filter
and increase
ripening period
of original filter.

Review
standard
operating
procedures.

Non
compliance with
Section 3.2.3.1
of
DWSNZ:2000.

Evidence of
rotting matter
in the sand.

Review
standard
operating
procedures.

Balance
between
inlet/outlet
flows difficult to
regulate.
Abnormally
long period
after recommissioning
to achieve
DWSNZ:2000
compliance.

Unpleasant
odours in the
treated water.

Greater use of
one filter in the
pair than the
other.

Ensure that
water quality
entering the
filter is
satisfactory.

Ref P6.2
Public Health Risk Management Plan Guide:
Version 1, December 2001Treatment Processes Slow sand filtration

The schmutzdecke is the mat of dirt, and living an dead organisms, on the top of the sand which
removes particles and the germs.
Causes

Preventive
measures

Checking preventive measures


What to check

Corrective action

Signs that action


is needed

Event: PARTICLES NOT REMOVED contd


P6.2.1.6

Ensure sampling
procedures
comply with the
requirements of
DWSNZ:2000.

Provide staff
training in:

operation of
slow sand
filters

collection of
monitoring
samples

recording of
monitoring
results.

Poor quality
assurance
procedures.

Monitoring as
per Section
3.2.3.1
DWSNZ:2000.

Non
compliance with
Section 3.2.3.1
of
DWSNZ:2000.

Identify
shortcomings in
sampling
procedures and
rectify.

Identify
shortcomings in
staff training
and rectify.

Determine
whether
changes to
operating
procedures
need to be
made.

Undertake
regular audits of
filter operating
procedures.

Event: NATURAL ORGANIC MATTER NOT REMOVED


Possible hazards: Disinfection by-products (trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, chloral hydrate
(chlorine) and chlorite (chlorine dioxide)), and germs not removed.
Level of risk: Low4
P6.2.2
The causes, preventive measures, etc., for this event are the same as those given for event P6.2.1.
See P6.2.1.1P6.2.1.6.
4

The consequences of the event, and therefore the risk, will be influenced by the quality of the
water source.

Public Health Risk Management Plan Guide:


Ref P6.2
Filtration Slow Sand Filtration
Version 1, February 2002

Contingency Plans
If an event happens despite preventive and corrective actions you have
taken, you may need to consult with the Medical Officer of Health to
assess how serious a problem is.
Event Particles and large germs not removed
Indicators:

Required
actions:

Responsibility:

High turbidity of filtered water.

More than 0.01% of 215 m-sized particles are


detected in filtered water (see Section 3.2.3.1
DWSNZ:2000).

Cases of giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis,


associated with periods of poor water quality,
reported in the community.

Immediately take the treated water off-line.


Provide another source of potable water until
water of acceptable quality can again be
supplied.

Identify the cause of inadequate filtration and


rectify (see Section 3.4.2.1, DWSNZ:2000).

Monitor particle counts until they reach


acceptable levels.

If inadequately filtered water has entered the


reticulation, inform the MOH of the
transgression, and assess whether a boil
water notice is required.

Restart plant operation.

Record the cause of the failure and the


corrective steps taken.

Modify PHRMP if necessary.

Manager
supplies.

designated

responsible

for

water

Ref P6.2
Public Health Risk Management Plan Guide:
Version 1, December 2001Treatment Processes Slow sand filtration

PHRMP Performance
Assessment
To make sure that your supplys Public Health Risk Management Plan is
working properly, periodic checks are needed. The Overview document
outlines what needs to be done. The following table provides the
detailed information for checking this particular supply element.
What to
measure or
observe:

Particle size.

Microscopic particle analysis.

Follow the protocols set out in Section 3 of the


DWSNZ:2000.

How often:

For populations of more than 10,000, periodic


filter performance testing and on-line particle
counting, as in Table 3.3 of DWSNZ:2000.

For populations of 10,000 or fewer, as for


populations of more than 10,000, or by direct
microscopy as in Table 3.3 of DWSNZ:2000.

Record results to meet legislative requirements


or to allow PHRMP performance assessment.
The WINZ database is good for this.

The collected data need to be periodically


reviewed to see whether problems with this
supply element are developing. This should be
done as frequently as the manager responsible
considers necessary to minimise risk to public
health arising from this supply element.

Should this review show any unusual incidents,


indicate that proper procedures are not being
carried out, highlight poor laboratory results or
indicate that poor water quality is reaching
customers, then review the procedures for
managing the slow sand filter.

Evaluate the monitoring results, and any


actions taken as the result of having to
implement a contingency plan, to see if the
PHRMP needs modification eg, preventive
measures are up to date; the contingency plan
steps are still adequate; and changes to the
slow sand filter are recognised in the plan.

Manager designated responsible for the water

What to do with
the results:

Responsibility:

Public Health Risk Management Plan Guide:


Ref P6.2
Filtration Slow Sand Filtration
Version 1, February 2002

supply.

Ref P6.2
Public Health Risk Management Plan Guide:
Version 1, December 2001Treatment Processes Slow sand filtration