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Two components to water quality:

1. Safe drinking treatment of surface or subsurface
water for consumption
2. Safe release treatment of municipal sewage and
industrial wastewater

Water quality concern:

1. Health of people who drink the water

avoidance of cholera, typhoid fever,
gastroenteritis, etc.
2. Aesthetics: water color, hardness, taste, odor
3. Quality of water in the environment:
dissolved oxygen, salt content, habitat

Drinking water standards:

Primary and Secondary
Primary standards - health-related criteria
Secondary standards aesthetics (such as
taste, odor, and color) and nonaesthetic
(corrosivity and hardness)

Drinking water standards: primary standard

1) Synthetic organic chemicals (SOCs) are compounds used in the
manufacture of a wide variety of agricultural and industrial products
(insecticides, herbicides);
2) Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) are synthetic chemicals that
readily vaporize at room temperature (carbon tetrachloride; 1,1,1,trichloroetahne (TCA); trichloroethylene (TCE) and vinyl chloride).
3) Disinfectant byproduct (DBPs) are the byproducts formed when a
disinfectant reacts with chemicals in the water to form a toxic
product. Trihalomethanes (THMs) are the byproducts of water
chlorination. The most common solution is to remove the DBPforming compounds from the water before the disinfection.
4) Radionuclides concentrations in drinking water are expressed in
Pico curies per liter (pCi/L). 1 pCi = 2.2 radioactive decays per
minute (1 Ci is the decay rate of 1 gram of radium). Radon occurs
naturally in some groundwater, inhaled radon gas is thought to be a
major source of lung cancer.

Water treatment (drinking water):

Treatment for surface water
Settling/ clarification
remove particles that
settle out by gravity

removal of
large floating
debris, grit
and sand.

Flocculation - gentle
mixing of water with
chemicals to form
larger flocks.

Coagulation adding
chemicals and agitation to
promote suspended solids
to form/coagulate into
larger particles.

Filtration removal of
particles and floc by
gravity settlement

Sludge processing mixture of solids and

liquids collected from
the settling tank is
dewatered and
disposed of.

of effluent to
removal is

Treatment for groundwater

In general, underground water is much clearer from particulate matter compared to

surface water, therefore the main steps in the treatment include:
1.Aeration (removes excess and objectionable gases)
2.Flocculation (precipitation) to bind Ca and Mg ions
3.Sedimentation (gravity settling of particulate matter)
4.Recarbonation readjust pH and alkalinity
5.Filtration, disinfection, and solids processing

1. Sedimentation
During this treatment step, the particles are simply allowed to settle due to gravity effect.
Particles may have very different, irregular shapes and when describing particles, an
equivalent to a sphere' diameter is used. It is hydrodynamic diameter (in water) and
aerodynamic diameter (in air).
The drag force is a function of the particles Reynolds number:

s d p

where =density of water; vs = particle settling velocity; dp=particle

hydrodynamic diameter; =absolute viscosity of water.

For the laminar flow: Re < 1

For transition flow: 1 < Re < 10 000

For turbulent flow: Re > 104

1. Sedimentation
In most environmental engineering cases, only laminar flow is considered, therefore:
FD=3 vsdp

The gravitational force: FG=mg=Vppg;

The buoyancy force: FB=mwg=Vpg;
where g=gravitational acceleration (9.8 m/s2); m=the particle mass; mw=the mass of the
water displaced by the particle; Vp=particle volume=dp3/6; p=particle density;
=density of water.

The balance of forces on a particle when it is at its terminal velocity is FG = FD + FB

Substitution of the above equations results in the simplified form of Stokes law:


g p d p2

1. Sedimentation

Figure shows the trajectory of a particle that is being carried by the horizontal flow of
water from one end to the other of a rectangular settling basin. The particle settles at
distance, hp:

v sVb
h p v s

where =the hydraulic detention time of the basin; Vb=the basins volume; Q=the volumetric flow rate
of water through the basin.

In order to achieve higher efficiency of particles settling, the settling velocity (vs) should be
equal or greater than a critical settling velocity (vo):
h hQ hQ

Vb hAb Ab
where Ab=the surface area of the rectangular basin.

1. Sedimentation
The critical settling velocity is also known as surface loading rate or overflow rate.
If we want to design a clarifier to remove all particles of a size, d, from a water stream
with a flow rate, Q, the surface area, Ab, of the rectangular basin must be


g p d p2

The same formula is applicable for circular settling basin too. However, the influent enters
circular settling basins at the centre and the overflow rates are within
1.0-2.5 m3/m2 h.
Also the detention time influences the efficiency of the clarifier. The hydraulic detention
time in any tank is its volume divided by the influent flow rate (typically from 1 to 4

2. Coagulation and Flocculation

Particles that are too light or small require longer time period to settle.
Many of such particles are colloids (0.001 to 1 m).
These particles have overall charge and repulsion is present between the
particles that prevents aggregate formation; therefore a chemical agent
is required to stimulate the floc formation.
Coagulation is a chemical treatment that destabilizes particles surface
making them sticky so the particles adhere to each other and
consequently removed by settling and filtration.
Flocculation, sedimentation, filtration are physical treatment processes.
The usual coagulant is alum Al2(SO4)3*18H2O; also FeCl3, FeSO4, and
polyelectrolytes are used.
The overall reaction:
Al2(SO4)3*18H2O + 6HCO3- 2Al(OH)3 + 6CO2 + 18H2O + 3SO42alum
aluminium hydroxide
If it is necessary to increase pH then Ca(OH)2 or Na2CO3 is added.

2. Coagulation and Flocculation

Coagulants are added to the raw water in rapid mixcoagulation tank; the detention time is about minute.
Flocculation is followed up and provides gentle agitation for
about hour, during this period, the precipitating aluminium
hydroxide forms floc.
Parameter, G, the mixing intensity is used by engineers to
maximize the rate of collisions between particles, without the
breaking up the flocs.


where P=the power input to the paddles; Vb=the volume of the

vessel; and =the viscosity of water.

3. Filtration

It is a very common procedure with a few well established techniques in

The rapid depth filtration: the filter consists of layers of carefully sieved
materials such as sand, anthracite coal, diatomaceous earth and a bed
of graded gravel.
Processes involved: adsorption, flocculation, sedimentation. Such filters
are cleaned by backwashing the medium.
The typical filtration rates (va), (loading rate or superficial velocities) are
between 5 25 m3/ m2h).

va= Q / Af
The filter efficiency (production efficiency):
The effective filtration rate:

f = (Vf Vb Vr) / Vf

ref =(Vf Vb Vr) / Af*tc

where Vf=volume of water filtered per filter cycle (m3)

Vb=volume of water used to backwash the filter (m3)
Vr=volume of water used to rinse the filter after backwash (m3)
tc=duration of time for a complete filter cycle (hr)
Af = filters cross-sectional area

4. Disinfection
Disinfection is to kill any pathogens and prevent pathogens from growing
in the treated water.
Free chlorine is the most common disinfection procedure. It involves any
of the following compounds: gas Cl2, sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl),
calcium hypochlorite (Ca(OCl)2).
For Secondary disinfection, ammonia is added, which reacts with free
chlorine and forms chroloamines that have longer residence time in the
treated water.
Disinfectant byproducts (DBPs) include Trihalomethanes (THMs),
chloroform (CHCl3), and haloacetic acids (HAAs).
Presence of organic matter promotes formation of the DBPs, therefore the
disinfection is most efficient when carried out as the last treatment
process step.
Alternative disinfectants are chlorine dioxide (ClO2) and ozone (O3). Both
agents are effective against cysts and viruses but more costly compared
to chlorination. Additionally, ozone does not leave any protective residuals
in the water after the treatment.

5. Hardness and Alkanity

Hardness is defined as the concentration of Ca2+ and Mg2+ in
Groundwater is especially prone to excessive hardness.
Hardness causes problem of soap curd (reaction between
hardness and soap produces a sticky, gummy deposit) and
scaling (precipitation of CaCO3 and Mg(OH)2 that clogs hot
water pipes)
Alkalinity acid buffering capacity of water. In most natural
water, the total amount of H+ that can be neutralized is
dominated by the alkalinity provided by the carbonate buffering

5. Hardness and alkalinity

Hardness is expressed in terms
of equivalent weight, EW,
which is atomic or molecular
weight of a substance divided
by a number, n, that relates to
its valence or ionic charge.

EW = AW / n

e.g. EW (CaCO3) = (40+12+3x16) / 2 = 50 g/eq = 50 mg/meq

for EW (Ca2+) = 40 / 2 = 20 mg/meq

The general expression is meq/L (X) = [X, mg/L] / EW (X, mg/meq)

Alkalinity = [HCO3-] + 2[CO32-] + [OH] [H+]

6. Softening
The surface waters seldom have hardness exceeding 200 mg/L
and softening is not regular part of the water treatment.
For waters with hardness ~ 1000 mg/L the treatment is
required. It involves lime-soda ash and the ion-exchange
1. Lime-soda processing, Ca(OH)2 is added to water and pH goes
up to <10. At this higher pH Mg++ and Ca++ ions precipitate and
are removed as solids.
2. In the ion-exchange process, the water flows through a
column packed with solid resin beads which are filled with
sodium ions that are exchanged for Mg++ and Ca++ ions as the
water passes through the resin. The resin must be
regenerated once the sodium is depleted from it.

6. Membrane Processes
All membranes can be considered semipermeable physical
barrier, they allow passage of water, while severely restricting
the permeation of contaminants in water (including pathogen,
hardness and dissolved solids, organic and disinfectant
byproduct precursors, metals, and suspended solids)
Classification of membrane: Particulate separation and solute
1. Particulate separation (reject particles, including pathogens)
microfiltration and ultrafiltration
2. Solute separation (dissolved substance) nanofiltration and
reverse osmosis

Size ranges and types of contaminants removed by membrane processes.

Wastewater treatment

Objectives of wastewater treatment:

Wastewater treatment process is divided into 3
1. Primary treatment to reduce content of
2. Secondary treatment to reduce BOD
3. Tertiary or advanced treatment to remove
nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus. Residues
of pharmaceutical substances (e.g.
antibiotics) require additional treatment.

1. Primary treatment
Screening: to remove large objects, debris
Grit chamber allows the heavy stuff to settle,
a few min detention time
Primary settling tank or primary clarifier: the
flow is sufficiently reduced,
detention time is ~ 1.5 3 hours during which
about 50-65% of suspended solids and 25-40%
of BOD are removed.
Overflow rate and detention time are the key

2. Secondary treatment, biological

I. Suspended growth
treatment (microbial organisms
are suspended in the water as it
is treated, i.e. bioreactor):

a) Activated sludge
treatment depends on two
components: oxygen supply and
microbial growth (sufficient
microbial population).

Oxygen Demand
Wastewater contains organic compounds such as glucose (C6H12O6).
Microorganisms in the water use these organic compounds as food
while degrading these organic compounds, microorganisms consume
oxygen dissolved in the water the O2 used by the organisms is
replenished by mass transfer from air

Microbial kinetics
Microorganisms consume organic matter (substrate) that is
measured in mg/L of BOD.
Mass of m/orgs fluctuates and their biomass is measured in mg/L of
Volatile Suspended Solids (VSS or VS). See more details in Experiment #
2 of the lab. manual.

Activated sludge tank works as a bioreactor.

The rate of substrate entering and leaving the reactor is affected by
the water rate entering and leaving, and the rate of microbial growth
is affected by changes in the mass of substrate available.
For a particular substrate and growth conditions, a proportion
between substrate mass consumed and new microbial cell mass
should be achieved to maintain efficiency of the w/water treatment.

rg=microbial mass growth rate

X =concentration of microorganisms (mg VSS/L)
= specific biomass growth rate constant (time-1)

When substrate concentration, S (mg BOD5/L), is

0, the growth rate is also 0.
When substrate is present in excess, the growth
rate reaches maximum rate of microbial
reproduction, m.

The Monod equation (1949)

Rate of microbial growth depends on the substrate concentration and the

amount of generated biomass should be proportional to the amount of
substrate consumed, i.e. certain proportion of the substrate consumed should
be converted into a predictable amount of new microbial cells.
Y = proportionality constant = yield coefficient , mg VSS/mg BOD5
Y relates the rate of substrate consumption, rsu, under particular conditions to
the rate of microbe growth:

k relates maximum specific

growth rate, m, to the yield
No death of microbial
cells is considered in
this equation.

The death rate for microbes, rd

kd=death /decay rate
constant, time-1

= net rate of change in

microbe concentration.

Microbial growth rate is proportional to the rate of substrate

consumption (rsu) minus the rate microbes die (rd).

2. Secondary treatment, biological.

Suspended growth treatment: Activated sludge
1. Bioreactor: BOD consumption

Mixed liquor

Retention time:

(return activated sludge)

Two conditions:
1. Supply of oxygen, i.e. aeration
2. Promoted growth of microbial biomass

(waste activated sludge)

2. Secondary treatment, biological.

The microbial cells mass settles in the secondary clarifier
and then is returned to the activate sludge tank to maintain
sufficient microbial activities.
The average cell retention time (solids retention time), SRT,
c is

Activated sludge tanks are relatively inexpensive, have less

problems with insects and odour, provide higher BOD
removal rates.
However, activated sludge reactors require higher expertise
to operate and more energy for pumps and blowers.

Approximate concentrations of BOD, suspended solids, total

nitrogen and total phosphorus as wastewater passes through
a secondary wastewater treatment plant.

b) Membrane bioreactors (MBRs) draw water from

the mixed liquor into hollow fiber membranes
submerged in the activated sludge aeration tank,
thus avoiding the need for a secondary clarifier.
Microfiltration fibers have a pore size is ~ 2
micrometer and effective in producing low TSS
MBRs application is very effective where
wastewater reuse and reclamation is desired.
MBRs have fouling problems, are more expensive to
build and operate; and their longevity is also
questioned as it is a relatively new technology.

c) Aerated lagoons and oxidation ponds.

Typically, oxidation ponds
are large, 1-2 m deep
where sewage is
decomposed by
The decomposition near
the surface is aerobic
and at the ponds bottom
is anaerobic; such ponds
are termed facultative
The ponds are easy to
build and they
sufficiently reduce BOD;
however the effluent
may contain undesirable
concentrations of algae
and unpleasant odour.

Attached Growth Treatment is often used as the sole secondary

treatment process and as pre-treatment step before an activated
sludge process.
a) Trickling filters are successfully
used since 19th century.
A trickling filter consists of a rotating
distribution arm that sprays the feed
w/water over a circular bed of
plastic packing or other coarse

Tall trickling filters filled with plastic media are called biotowers. The spaces
between the packing allow air to circulate easily so that aerobic conditions are
maintained. The media is covered by biological slime populated with
microorganisms, insects, fungus, protozoa, worms, snails, etc. that are
responsible for the w/water decomposition.
What is the principal difference b/w suspended and attached growth treatment?

b) Rotating biological contractors (RBC) consist of a series of

closely spaced, circular, plastic disks, typically 3.6 m in diameter
that are attached to a rotating horizontal shaft.
40% of each disk is submerged in wastewater.
Microorganisms populated on the surface of the rotating disks
decompose the wastewater.

Sludge treatment:
Sludge is a mixture of solids and water that
remains to be disposed of. The important objective of the sludge
treatment is to separate the water from the solids as much as
possible. The traditional method is anaerobic digestion. It is
slower than aerobic decomposition but has an advantage that a
small % of the waste is converted into new bacterial cells. Most of
the organics are converted into CO2 and CH4.

Many treatment plants use a two-stage digester shown below.

In the 1st stage, the sludge is thoroughly mixed and heated to increase the rate of
digestion (detention time 10-15 days)
The 2nd stage is characterized by stratification (no mixing): liquid, solids and gas. The
liquid part (supernatant) is returned for BOD removal; the sludge is dewatered and
disposed of; the gas is potential fuel used for heating purpose at most of the
treatment plants. The digested and dewatered sludge is potential soil conditioner but
mostly it is disposed in a landfill.

Advanced treatment involves removal of nutrient

elements such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
Aerobic bacteria converts ammonia (NH4+) to nitrate (NO3-) which is nitrification; then
anaerobic bacteria converts nitrate to nitrogen gas (N2) which is denitrification.
The aerobic part of the reaction :

NH4+ + 2O2 + bacteria NO3- + 2H+ + H2O

For the nitrification process the detention time of at least 15 days is required.
For the anaerobic part, denitrification, the reaction:
2NO3- + organic matter + bacteria N2 + CO2 + H2O
Because the denitrification takes place after waste treatment, there may be not enough
organic material for the bacteria and therefore additional nutrient is required, which is
typically methanol (CH3OH).
Phosphorus in w/water exists as orthophosphate (H2PO4-; HPO42-, and PO43-), and it is
removed by reaction with added coagulant such as alum or lime.
The reaction:
Al2(SO4)3 + 2PO42- 2AlPO4 + 3SO42-