The overall purpose was to assess the feasibilities of recycling filter backwash water (FBWW) and combined filter backwash water (CFBWW) in a drinking water treatment plant in south China. The variations of regular water-quality indexes, metal indexes (Al, Mn and Cd), polyacrylamide and disinfection by-product indexes (trihalomethanes and their formation potentials) along with the treatment and the recycling processes were monitored. Results showed the recycling procedure caused increases of turbidity, total solids, ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N), permanganate index (CODMn), and dissolved organic carbon, Al, Mn and Cd concentrations in a mixture of raw water and FBWW or CFBWW compared to those in raw water. However, the recycling procedure had negligible impacts on the qualities of settled water and filtered water because most of the contaminants could be effectively removed by the conventional water treatment process. Although recycling did cause slight increases of NH3-N and CODMn levels in settled water and filtered water, the quality of finished water always conformed to Chinese standards for drinking water quality according to the surveyed indexes in the present study. Thus, it is appropriate to recycle waste streams in water-stressed areas if the source water is well managed and the water treatment processes are carefully conducted.

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