Drinking water biosafety has become an increasing concern for public health. Chlorination is widely used as the main disinfection strategy worldwide but has clear and well-known byproduct issues. The Netherlands has successfully demonstrated unchlorinated approach for almost 20 years but has not been widely adopted by other countries. To chlorine or not chlorine is becoming a critical question in front of all the water utilities. This review aims to provide a good overview of current biosafety management strategies, their disadvantages, as well as the latest developments and future trends. Firstly, the advantages and deficiencies of conventional disinfection and non-disinfection were discussed. Secondly, the commonly used and promising methods for biostability assessment are described. Finally, critical views on the strategy selection for ensuring drinking water biosafety were discussed. It is recommended to achieve both biological and chemical balance by removing pathogens while minimizing the organic matter and dosing a minimum level of disinfectants, which would represent the compromise choice between the current chlorine-based disinfection and chlorine-free strategy. It's worth noting that the complexity of ensuring biosafety lies in the variations among different regions, the selection of suitable methods should be tailored to specific situations on a case-by-case basis.

  • Recent development in drinking water biosafety is reviewed.

  • Disadvantages of chlorination are discussed.

  • Successful unchlorination demostration is given regarding key points and limitations.

  • Monitoring technologies are presented and reviewed.

  • Chlorination and unchloriantion are compared, with a focus on disucssing future trends and directions.

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