The paper is concerned principally with summarising the experience to-date of treating low alkalinity, low turbidity, humic-rich surface waters by the combination of ozone oxidation and biological filtration processes. In the UK, USA and other countries, upland coloured waters have often been treated by slow sand filtration in which only moderate removals of DOC have been achieved (< 20%). The presence of significant levels of humic matter in filtrate waters has led to difficulties in achieving compliance with the standards for colour and THMs, and concern about the stability of residual chlorine and potential biogrowth in water supply pipework. This has led to several investigations (eg. in the UK, Sweden and the USA) of the benefits of applying ozonation prior to slow sand filtration in view of its known capability to decolorise humic substances and enhance biodegradability of the organic fractions. This paper summarises the experience to-date and highlights the benefits and problems that have been identified. Some studies have attempted to compare the relative performances of slow sand filters and granular activated carbon (GAC) filters for the removal of BDOC and the paper reviews the principal findings of these studies in view of the growing worldwide interest in the application of ozone-GAC. One major limitation with the use of ozone-GAC is the need periodically to remove and regenerate the carbon, since bed lives for the removal of humic substances are typically short. An alternative approach is to use inorganic adsorbents instead of carbon which have the potential to be chemically regenerated in-situ. The paper refers to the results of laboratory tests that have been carried out on the potential use of pre-ozonation followed by inorganic adsorbents (eg. Activated alumina, bauxite) for the removal of humic substances.

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