Turbidity measurements are used extensively for monitoring water quality, and as a warning for process failure which may carry a risk of Cryptosporidium breakthrough. However, turbidity is most sensitive to particles in the submicrometre size range, whereas Cryptosporidium is 4-6 μm in diameter. The question therefore remains - do particle counters help in monitoring for the risk of Cryptosporidium breakthrough?
A full year study was undertaken at a direct river abstraction works. The project aimed to establish whether particle counts can be used to predict an increased risk of Cryptosporidium breakthrough. Although protozoan (oo)cysts were often present in low numbers in the raw water, none was detected in the final water. Particle counts and turbidity measurements were carried out on three RGFs and the raw and clarified water. Online Cryptosporidium and Giardia samples were also taken daily from the three RGFs being monitored for particles, and bacteriological analyses were carried out on the same sample points. Other plant parameters and environmental factors were also monitored.
Particle counts from RGFs varied significantly. The main factors influencing the filtered water particle count appeared to be raw water turbidity and algal counts, and the particulate loading rate to the filters.