Degradation of water quality in supply and distribution systems is one of the foremost problems that water companies are faced with. It is everyday practice in many countries to maintain a residual quantity of a disinfectant such as chlorine throughout the system, in order to ensure the safety of distributed water. However, the chlorine added at the water treatment plant disappears as it travels to the consumer tap, due to reactions in the bulk of the flow and at the pipe walls. This paper analyses the influence on free chlorine bulk decay of several water quality parameters, such as temperature, initial chlorine dosage, organic matter and iron content. The performance of five alternative kinetic models for describing the disinfectant behaviour is also assessed, considering both static and steady-state flow conditions. For the conditions tested, a parallel pseudo-first order model provided the best results.
Although, in practice, parallel first order kinetic models fit experimental data better than the classic first order model, most water quality modelling software still relies on the latter as a base choice. The paper discusses practical conditions that may influence model selection for network simulation purposes, and the relevance of the associated errors.