Artificial recharge of groundwater offers a semi-natural means to produce raw water for drinking-water plants. Surface water works are increasingly being replaced by artificial groundwater works in Finland. Two municipalities, one serving 30,000 and the other 170,000 inhabitants, have considered filtering river water through eskers for the production of potable water. In this study the removal of bacteriophages during infiltration of river water was estimated, for the evaluation of treatment adequacy in a field study. A 5-m-deep column of sand was constructed and used to mimic the percolating phase in infiltration. An artificial esker was constructed on the riverbank by isolating a 2-m-wide, 2-m-deep and 18-m-long bed of coarse sand with plastic. The sand bed represented the saturated zone. River water was pumped at a rate of 40 L/h to the sand column. The river water was spiked with F+ specific RNA phage MS2 by adding phage suspension during one week at an average concentration of 4.3 × 109 PFU/mL. Samples for phage assays were taken during one month, from four sampling sites, on the basis of detention time as estimated by a tracer experiment with sodium chloride. The median count of MS2 for percolated water was 2.4 × 105 PFU/mL, representing a 96.7% reduction. During the passage of 6 m in the saturated zone, a further reduction of 98.5% occurred. During the passage from 6 m to 12 m the additional reduction was 99.97%. The overall reduction was between 6 and 7 log10 units. The removal of MS2 phages was rather efficient, although the esker material was coarse, mainly sandy, gravel.

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