Practical experience shows that water treatment filters develop problems over time due to the routine running of the filter, including backwashing. There are difficulties in maintaining filters in good condition, given the eutrophic state of many South African raw waters, high water temperatures and the development of difficult-to-remove biofilm as a result. Such difficulties are often related to deposits accumulated on the filter media and it is, therefore, expected that the backwash system should be good enough to ensure that the filter is kept clean in the long run. This paper deals with a fairly simple operational option to significantly improve backwash efficiency at treatment plants where air and water are used consecutively.

The paper describes methods used and typical results obtained in the testing of the quantitative benefits of multiple wash cycles. Multiple washing shows great promise for improving backwash efficiency, with an average of an additional 40% to 50% of the solids that would have been washed out with a single wash, removed by a second wash. Furthermore, third and even fourth washes continue to remove additional dirt from the filter. Multiple washing, therefore, may be a useful tool for the effective rehabilitation of a filter, as well as for routine operation procedures.

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