Efficiency of solar disinfection (SODIS) was evaluated for the potability of rainwater in view of the increasing water and energy crises especially in developing countries. Rainwater samples were collected from an underground storage tank in 2 L polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and SODIS efficiency was evaluated at different weather conditions. For optimizing SODIS, PET bottles with different backing surfaces to enhance the optical and thermal effects of SODIS were used and different physicochemical parameters were selected and evaluated along with microbial re-growth observations and calculating microbial decay constants. Total and fecal coliforms were used along with Escherichia Coli and Heterotrophic Plate Counts (HPC) as basic microbial and indicator organisms of water quality. For irradiance less than 600 W/m2, reflective type PET bottles were best types while for radiations greater than 700 W/m2, absorptive type PET bottles offered best solution due to the synergistic effects of both thermal and UV radiations. Microbial inactivation did not improve significantly by changing the initial pH and turbidity values but optimum SODIS efficiency is achieved for rainwater with acidic pH and low initial turbidity values by keeping air-spaced PET bottles in undisturbed conditions. Microbial re-growth occurred after one day only at higher turbidity values and with basic pH values. First-order reaction rate constant was in accordance with recent findings for TC but contradicted with previous researches for E. coli. No microbial parameter met drinking water guidelines even under strong experimental weather conditions rendering SODIS ineffective for complete disinfection and hence needed more exposure time or stronger sunlight radiations. With maximum possible storage of rainwater, however, and by using some means for accelerating SODIS process, rainwater can be disinfected and used for potable purposes.

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