The objectives of this pilot-scale study were to optimize backwash frequency and empty bed contact time (EBCT) of biofilters treating ozonated surface water from Lake Ontario. Performance was benchmarked in terms of the reduction of turbidity, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), disinfection by-product (DBP) precursors, and ultrafiltration foulants (biopolymers). Increasing the EBCT from 4 to 8 min resulted in a higher reduction of DOC (5%), trihalomethane (THM4) and haloacetic acid (HAA9) precursors (∼12%) without negatively impacting effluent turbidity (consistently below 0.4 NTU), while biopolymer removal remained unaffected (2%). The impact of varying backwash frequency (5, 10, and 25 day intervals) was also compared for biofilters operated at an EBCT of 4 min. Results showed no impact of extended run times (up to 25 days) on DOC or DBP precursor removal; however turbidity removal was affected beyond 15 days of operation. Backwashing biofilters at 10 vs 5 day intervals would result in a reduction of backwash water, energy consumption and amount to nearly $17,000 in savings for the utility.

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