Filtration with granular activated carbon (GAC) after an enhanced coagulation (EC) process was evaluated in order to determine the effectiveness of GAC in the reduction of natural organic matter (NOM), which should result in much lower formation of trihalomethane in the disinfection step. The results show that a combination of EC and GAC considerably reduces the organic matter content, which is mainly fulvic acid. This type of organic matter is removed with high coagulant dosages which neutralize their high anionic charge. A further reduction of NOM is achieved due the adsorption of NOM by GAC. As a result, the average trihalomethane (THM) concentration was only 14.5±5 μg L−1. Enhanced coagulation alone decreased the NOM concentration by 50%, but the remaining NOM reacted in the chlorination step and a higher average THM concentration was found (38±23 μg L−1). An average THM concentration of 73.8±41.2 μg L−1 was found at the drinking water plant of Boaco when conventional treatment was used. This THM concentration sometimes exceeds the maximum contaminant level of 80 μg L−1 established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), but not the Nicaraguan threshold of 460 μg L−1.

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