In conventional drinking water treatment processes, the amount of the filter backwash water covers nearly 3% of the total production. To reduce the water loss and waste discharge in the conventional drinking water treatment process, the Macao Water Supply Co. Ltd (SAAM) plans to recover the backwash water by Microfiltration (MF) membrane process as water resources are scarce and new environmental regulations are mandated in Macao. Generally, the filter backwash water from the conventional water treatment plant with sedimentation process is recycled to the source water to be treated again under certain conditions, and the sedimentation tank discharges most of the sludge. However, it is possible to recycle the backwash water directly to the inlet for direct filtration process due to the limitation of inlet turbidity. This paper describes how to apply MF technology to treat the backwash water of the direct filtration plant and to optimize MF operation. Without pre-treatment of the settling basin for backwash water, the operation of the MF pilot plant is proved to be stable and the permeate quality can meet EU drinking water standards. The pilot study shows that it is both economically and technically feasible to adopt MF technology in backwash water treatment. The main parameters to test MF process include flux, chemical cleaning duration and transmembrane pressure (TMP). They are 150-200 L/m2.h, 20 days and <1 bar respectively. The estimated cost including O&M and investment for a 1320-1760 m3/d backwash water treatment plant is USD 0.126-0.168/m3.

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