A comprehensive isolation, fractionation, and characterization research approach was developed for dissolved and colloidal organic matter (DOM) in water, and it was applied to various surface- and groundwaters to assess DOM precursors, DOM diagenesis, and DOM reactivity to water treatment processes. Major precursors for natural DOM are amino sugars, condensed tannins, and terpenoids. Amino sugar colloids derived from bacterial cell walls are incompletely removed by drinking water treatment and foul reverse osmosis membranes, but are nearly quantitatively removed by soil/aquifer treatment. When chlorinated, amino sugars produce low yields of regulated disinfection by-products (DBPs) but they produce significant chlorine demand that is likely caused by chlorination of free amino groups. Condensed tannins are major precursors for ,blackwater- DOM such as that found in the Suwannee River. This DOM produces high yields of DBPs upon chorination, and is efficiently removed by coagulation/flocculation treatment. Terpenoid-derived DOM appears to be biologically refractory, infiltrates readily into groundwater with little removal by soil/aquifer treatment, gives low DBP-yields upon chlorination and is poorly removed by coagulation/flocculation treatments. Peptides derived from proteins are major components of the base DOM fraction (10% or less of the mass of DOM), and this fraction produces large yields of haloacetonitriles upon chorination.

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