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09, 2019

• Natural forms of pollutants have always been

present in surface waters. Many of the impurities
were washed from the air, eroded from land
surfaces or leached from the soil and found their
WATER PURIFICATION way into surface water. Natural purification
PROCESSES IN NATURAL processes were able to remove or otherwise
render these materials harmless.
SYSTEMS • Human activity increased the amount and
changed the nature of pollutants entering
Settlements → Villages → Towns → Cities

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• Quantity of waste products • Only in recent decades have POLLUTION

CONTROL PROGRAMS been initiated in an
increased until the self – attempt to reduce contaminants discharged
purification capacity of local to bodies of water to the level that the
bodies of water was exceeded. natural purification processes can once
Smaller streams were first again assimilate them.
affected then larger streams and • Self –purification mechanisms of natural
lakes ultimately becoming water systems include: physical, chemical,
and biological processes.

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• Speed and completeness with which • The same physical, chemical and
these processes occur depend on many
variables that are system specific. biological processes that serve to
System variables that have an influence purify natural water systems also
on the natural purification process are: work in engineered systems. In
(a) hydraulic characteristics (b) physical water and wastewater treatment
characteristics of bottom and bank plants, the rate and extent of these
material (c) variations in sunlight (d)
temperature (e) chemical nature of the processes are managed by
natural water controlling the system variables.

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Mar. 09, 2019


natural purification processes is - PURIFICATION OF WATERCOURSES
essential to the understanding 1) Dilution
of • Wastewater disposal practices were based
1)the assimilative capacity of on the premise that “the solution to
pollution is dilution”
surface waters
• It was considered the most economical
2)the operations of engineered means of wastewater disposal and was
systems considered good engineering practice

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• Although a powerful adjunct to self – • Under present regulations,

cleaning mechanisms of surface water,
its success depends upon discharging maximum allowable loads are
relatively small quantities of waste into set independently of dilution
large bodies of water capacity – only when the
• Growth in population and industrial
activity, with increasing water demand
standard maximum load is
and wastewater quantities precludes violated then dilution capacity is
the use of many streams for dilution of considered.
raw or poorly treated wastewaters

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• The dilution capacity of a stream can be Example:

calculated using the principles of mass balance. If
the volumetric flowrate and the concentration of
1) A treated wastewater enters a stream
a given material are known in both the stream as shown. The concentration of sodium
and waste discharge, the concentration after in the stream at point A is 10 mg/L and
mixing can be calculated as: the flowrate is 20 m3/s. The
CsQs + CwQw = CmQm concentration of sodium in the waste
where: C – the concentration of selected material stream is 250 mg/L and the flowrate is
(in mass/volume) 1.5 m3/s. Determine the concentration
Q – the volumetric flowrate (volume/time) of sodium at point B assuming complete
s, w and m – means stream, waste and
mixture conditions
mixing has occurred.

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Mar. 09, 2019

2) Effluent from a wastewater treatment is

discharged to a surface stream. The
2) Sedimentation and Re – suspension
characteristics of the effluent and stream are as • Suspended solids are one of the most
follows: common water pollutants and in
FLOW BOD5 AMMONIA NITRATE CHLORIDE suspension, solids increase turbidity and
reduce light penetration may restrict the
EFFLUENT 8640 m3/d 25 mg/L 7 mg/L 10 mg/L 15 mg/L photosynthetic activity of plants, inhibit
vision of aquatic animals, interfere with
STREAM 1.2 m3/s 2.1 mg/L 0 mg/L 3.0 mg/L 5.0 mg/L
feeding of aquatic animals that obtain food
Determine the stream characteristics after from filtration and be abrasive to
mixing with the waste has occurred. respiratory structures such as gills of fish.

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Sedimentation - This natural sedimentation is not without

drawbacks. Anaerobic conditions are likely to
– nature’s method of removing develop in sediments and any organics trapped in
suspended particles from a them will decompose, releasing soluble compounds
watercourse and most large solids will into the stream above. Sediments deposit can also
settle out readily in quiescent water. alter streambed by filling up the pore space and
creating unsuitable conditions for the reproduction
Particles in the colloidal size range can of many aquatic organisms. It can also alter its
stay in suspension for long periods of course or hamper navigation activities and it reduce
time though eventually most of these reservoir storage capacities and silt in harbors and
will also settle out. increase flooding due to channel fill – in.

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• Re-suspension of solids is common

in times of flooding or heavy runoff.
Increased turbulence may
resuspend solids formerly deposited
along normally quiescent areas of
stream and carry them for
considerable distances downstream
and eventually they will settle again.

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3) Filtration
• Large bits of debris lodge on reeds or stones as
they move along streambeds and they remain
caught until high waters wash them into
mainstream again. Small bits of organic matters
and inorganic clays and other sediments may be
filtered out by pebbles or rocks along the
streambed. A water percolates from the surface
In this photo taken by Canadian Peter Mark in the end of April, 2012, and
released on Wednesday, May 2, a Harley-Davidson motorbike lies on a beach
downward into groundwater aquifers, filtration
in Graham Island, western Canada. Japanese media say the motorcycle lost in of much more sophisticated type occurs. If the
last year's tsunami washed up on the island about 6,400 kilometers (4,000 soil layers are deep and fine enough, removal of
miles) away. The rusted bike was originally found by Mark in a large white suspended material is essentially complete by
container where its owner, Ikuo Yokoyama, had kept it. The container was
later washed away, leaving the motorbike half-buried. the time waters enters the aquifer.

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4) Gas Transfer
• The transfer of gases into and out of water is an
important part of the natural purification
process. The replenishment of oxygen lost to
bacteria degradation of organic waste is
accomplished by the transfer of oxygen from the
air into the water. Conversely, gases evolved in
the water by chemical and biological processes
may be transferred from the water to the
atmosphere. Gas transfer is affected by
solubility (extent to which gas is soluble in
water) and transfer rate (rate at which
dissolution or release occurs)

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• Bodies of water lose and gain heat much more - PURIFICATION OF WATERCOURSES
slowly than do land or air masses and under most
circumstances, water temperature is fairly constant • Natural watercourses contain many
and changes gradually with the seasons. dissolved minerals and gases that interact
Meteorological variables and other factors such as
channel characteristics (depth, width, surface area),
chemically with one another.
channel volume etc. affect the rate of heat transfer • Redox (reduction – oxidation), dissolution –
in bodies of water. For streams heated by solar precipitation and other chemical
radiation over several miles of heat. Aquatic plants
and animals have not developed sufficient conversions may alternately aid or obstruct
adaptability to deal with abrupt changes in natural purification processes in natural
temperature and only the most hardy species water systems
survive such changes.

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Chemical Conversions: 3) Natural chemical conversions that take

place in water can change materials into a
1) Oxidation – reduction conversion form that is soluble and therefore usable by
– biochemically mediated various aquatic organisms.
2) Dissolution – precipitation Example: N and P – most essential
– solid dissolve in water are essential to the nutrients for the growth of microorganisms
and plankton.
metabolic and reproductive activities of
microorganisms that degrade and stabilize 4) Chemical conversions can help stabilize pH
of water bodies. Ex. HCO3- acts as a buffer
organic waste – this is directly or indirectly
to protect a stream from pH fluctuations
influenced by dissolution – precipitation harmful to aquatic systems.

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PURIFICATION OF WATERCOURSES 1) Catabolism – provides the energy for the
• Chemical reactions are biologically mediated – synthesis of new cells, as well as for the
these reactions are not spontaneous and require maintenance of other cell functions
external sources of energy for initiation.
2) Anabolism – provides the material
* Metabolism – sum total of the processes by
necessary for cell growth
which living organisms assimilate and use food
for subsistence, growth and reproduction. • When external food source is interrupted,
Metabolic processes and the organisms involved organisms will use stored food for
are a vital part in self – purification of natural maintenance energy – a process called
water system. Endogenous catabolism.

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MICROORGANISMS THAT PLAY AN (b) Heterotrophs – bacteria that obtain both

IMPORTANT ROLE IN NATURAL WATER energy and material from organic sources. Most
SYSTEMS important bacteria in the degradation of organic
material. They are further classified into:
1) Bacteria – the primary decomposers of
▪ aerobic heterotrophs – require O2 in their
organic material. They are classified metabolic process
according to the energy and material ▪ anaerobic heterotrophs – utilize organics in the
sources that they require: absence of O2
(a) Autotrophs – organisms that derive both ▪ facultative heterotrophs – functions as aerobes
energy and material from inorganic sources. when O2 is present and anaerobic in the absence
Their major function is to convert N and S of O2
compounds into stable end – products Phototrophs – utilize sunlight for energy and
inorganic substances for material source

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2) Algae – these are autotrophic,

photosynthetic organisms which
metabolize the waste product of
heterotrophic bacteria while obtaining
energy from sunlight.
3) Protozoa – single – cell organisms that
reproduce by binary fission. Protozoa are
voracious consumers of organic material
and are important members of the aquatic
Other organisms: Rotifers and crustacea,
sludge worms, etc,