Little information is available on the evolution of remaining organic matter (ROM) in a water distribution system (WDS) and its impact on the generation of disinfection by-products (DBPs). This research involves the characterization, through sample fractionation processes and experimental chlorination tests, of the reactivity of DBP precursors occurring within a WDS. The study is based on samples collected in various locations of a WDS during a complete year. For each sample, six fractions were generated to determine their potential for formation of trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). Fractionation processes on ROM demonstrated that the spatial behavior of precursors for THMs differs from that for precursors of HAAs. In addition, experimental chlorination tests showed that the reactivity of the investigated fractions, in terms of DBP formation potential (DBPfp), was different from each other according to location in the WDS. DBPfp for the studied fractions changed drastically during water treatment. However, changes of DBPfp for fractions were relatively low between the beginning and the extremity of the distribution system. Since the results of this research confirm that the ability to produce DBPs is related to the nature of the fractions, they could be useful to evaluate the impact of re-chlorination on DBP formation in a WDS.

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