To gain an improved understanding of the types of organic compounds that are recalcitrant to water treatment, natural organic matter (NOM) isolates from two drinking water sources (Mt. Zero and Moorabool reservoirs, Victoria, Australia) were separated into fractions of distinct chemical behaviour using resins. Four fractions were obtained from each water source and were organics absorbed to: (1) XAD-8 (very hydrophobic acids, VHA); (2) DAX-4 (slightly hydrophobic acids, SHA); (3) bound to an anion exchange resin (charged organics, CHAR); and (4) not absorbed or bound to resins (neutrals, NEUT). These fractions were then tested to determine the capacity of alum to remove them from water and to correlate this with the character of each isolate. The fractions were characterised by the application of high performance size exclusion chromatography (HPSEC), bacterial regrowth potential (BRP), trihalomethane formation potential (THMFP), pyrolysis gas-chromatography mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) and thermochemolysis. The highest removals of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) by alum treatment were in waters spiked with the CHAR fractions while the NEUT fractions were the most recalcitrant. The number average molecular weights (Mn) of DOC of the CHAR fractions before treatment were the highest, whilst those of the NEUT fractions were the lowest. After alum treatment, the Mn of the NEUT fractions were only slightly reduced. Results from Py-GC-MS and thermochemolysis indicate that the NEUT fractions had the highest relative proportion of saccharide derived organic material. Nonetheless, the BRP of waters spiked with the NEUT fractions differed markedly, indicating that organics recalcitrant to alum treatment can vary substantially in their chemical composition and capacity to support microbial growth.

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