Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015PR165B

Development and evaluation of a hybrid multimedia-filter prototype (HMP) for the degradation of natural organic matter (NOM) and bacteriological control from raw waters.

Institute: Puerto Rico
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $20,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $43,469

Principal Investigators: Pedro Tarafa, OMarcelo Suarez

Abstract: Ingestion of raw, untreated water is one of the main causes of mortality in developing countries due to diarrheal disease. This is caused mainly by the presence of pathogenic bacteria due to fecal pollution of water sources and poor sanitation. In PR, approximately 500 communities are not served by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA), making them vulnerable to periodic outbreaks of waterborne diseases. Most of these Non-PRASA communities rely their water treatment on simple disinfection. In this scenario, chlorine is the preferable disinfecting agent. However, the use of chlorine may cause the formation of disinfection by-products (DBP) such as trihalomethanes (THM’s), which are a group of organic chemicals formed when chlorine reacts with natural organic matter (NOM) in raw water. THM’s are environmental pollutants and are of concern because they are potential carcinogens. A reasonable strategy to minimize the THM’s formation potential is to reduce NOM concentration in raw water before chlorination. One of the biggest challenges in water treatment facilities reside in controlling and limiting the risks from pathogens while simultaneously minimizing health risks from THM’s. Hence, there is an urgent need to develop cost-effective alternatives for THM’s control while assuring bacteriological quality of water for any water treatment facility, but specifically, for Non-PRASA water systems. The present proposal aims to develop a hybrid multimedia-filter prototype (HMP) combining glass/TiO2 composite with an intermittent biosand filter (IBSF) to simultaneously treat both NOM and pathogens by photocatalytic and biological processes. To accomplish this endeavor, it is proposed a two-year project encompassed by: 1. Preliminary work to determine the optimum physical parameters of the sorbent materials; 2. Design and construction of the HMP; and 3. Proof-of-concept and testing. Pathogen concentration will be evaluated by monitoring two fecal pollution indicators: Escherichia coli and Enterococcus. Dissolved organic carbon will be accounted by a total organic carbon analyzer to determine the organic levels in the treated and untreated samples, representative of the NOM. The realization of the project will provide essential data to set the foundations for the development and establishment of a novel, accessible treatment process for the degradation of THM’s precursors and pathogens elimination.