Water utilities in Japan want to reduce residual chlorine levels so as to reduce disinfection byproducts and the chlorine smell, but bacterial regrowth is a concern. In advanced water treatment plants using ozonation and biological activated carbon (BAC), BAC plays the most important role in reducing assimilable organic carbon (AOC). Therefore, we analyzed the removal of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and AOC by full-scale BAC filters with different operational periods. Seasonal variation in AOC in raw water was wide, with a maximum of 306 μg acetate-C/L in November, and ozonation increased AOC. Nonetheless, BAC filters that had operated for 6 years produced water with lower AOC than ones with shorter operational periods, although they released a small amount of aromatic DOM. A diagram was constructed to derive the required levels of residual chlorine for no bacterial regrowth at various AOC levels of BAC effluents, which were linked with the operational periods of BAC filters and AOC in the ozonation effluents. Although BAC filters operated for longer than 100 weeks can effectively reduce AOC, lowering AOC levels in the ozonation effluent was indispensable for preventing bacterial regrowth in the water supply network at lower levels of residual chlorine than at present.

Supplementary data