Hygiene standards and parasites have been a special focus of drinking water utilities for several years. In this context the development of new, high-tech water treatment methods is often taken into consideration. However, we have been applying riverbank filtration as an inexpensive, natural method in Düsseldorf for over 130 years. Indeed it had been introduced for “hygiene reasons” at the time and, according to our experience, riverbank filtration is well suited to meet these “new” hygiene challenges. We have intensively examined the infiltration of river water into the aquifer. We view this core process as the prerequisite for the sustained function of riverbank filtration. It is closely linked with the retention of turbid matters in the riverbed and the shearing forces on the subsurface. In addition, we have investigated the effectiveness of bank filtration as regards the elimination of microorganisms over recent years. According to these examinations, bacteria are reduced by an average of 3 log orders by bank filtration; individual breakthroughs correlate with high water events. According to our measurements Giardia and Cryptosporidium have been completely eliminated in riverbank passage. The retention of three examined types of viruses was also found to be almost completely accomplished.

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