Abstract

Water treatment plants are designed to continuously produce drinkable water, meeting defined criteria of potability. However, besides potable water, these plants produce sludges that are disposed of in the environment. The present work aimed to evaluate the sludges generated in two water treatment plants and disposed of in the margin of the Juturnaíba dam. Since alum has been used as a flocculating agent in these two plants, the concentrations of aluminum were measured in the sludges and in surface sediments. The generated piles are extremely soft to walk on and difficult to measure, so indirect modeling procedures had to be applied. The calculated mass of the sludge piles at each plant are similar and respectively 60,370 and 61,479 tons. The aluminum content of the residues, calculated according to its dosage, was 33.2 and 32.6 g kg−1 in the piles from the two plants. The amount of alum dosed to the water corresponds almost to the excess of aluminum in the sludge, compared to the sediments. It was concluded that regardless of the fact that residues are disposed of in very restricted areas, they are directly in contact with the water and may constitute a threat for the environment and humans’ health.

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