Disinfection studies rarely use natural waters due to demands exerted on the applied disinfectants and lack of consistent disinfectant residuals. This study compared the degree of disinfection achieved in natural waters between conventional batch (static) models and a system of similar volume where disinfectant residuals were maintained at constant levels (dynamic). In the latter, disinfectant was delivered through a hollow fibre cartridge from a slipstream of a full-scale (chloramine) or pilot (chlorine) water treatment plant. The test organisms (hepatitis A virus, poliovirus, MS-2, Mycobacterium terrae and Enterococcus durans) were selected with different resistance to the disinfectants. In general, for water of ‘good’ quality, the differences between the two systems were often small or not apparent for monochloramine. However, for low chlorine residuals, or when additional demand was placed on the disinfectant, differences between the two systems became more apparent. Little difference was seen between disinfection of the test organisms singly or in mixtures, but injury of vegetative bacteria with monochloramine was very apparent. This system could be useful for understanding the fluctuations in disinfection efficacy that may occur in source water of varying quality, or in distribution systems, as disinfectant residuals decline.

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