The quick, accurate, and inexpensive measurement of Trihalomethanes (THMs) creates numerous opportunities to improve the water treatment process. THM levels can be lowered throughout the distribution system and chemical usage can be optimized to save money. What’s more, quick process adjustments can be made to control THM formation when surface water Total Organic Carbon (TOC) characteristics alter due to seasonal or unusual weather conditions. Where before you might have had limited THM data, you can now greatly expand the sampling frequency and monitoring locations to help you better understand the THM formation characteristics of your water source, treatment process, and distribution system.
Both human activities and seasonal changes can affect source water, altering the mineral characteristics of the water as well as the reactivity of its dissolved organic carbon. A water plant may observe no significant changes in the quantity of TOC due to seasonal events, but they may find their THM level has changed. Frequent measurements of THM can help operators better understand the reactivity changes of their source water.
A successful coagulation process depends on identifying the correct coagulant type and optimum dosage under suitable environmental conditions of pH and alkalinity such that the coagulant will remove the maximum TOC, UV254, and turbidity, and form easily settleable floc. However, without the ability to measure THM concentration of the finished water in real time, the plant operator will not know if the coagulation process has been optimized to also remove the maximum amount of THM precursors. With the ability to easily measure THM concentration in finished water, the plant operator can adjust the coagulation process to achieve minimal THM formation potential. Additionally, this allows the treatment plant to supply safe drinking water with the required level of disinfectant concentration while also maintaining lower DBP levels throughout the entire distribution system.
Trihalomethane formation in water distribution systems is a function of water travel time, temperature, and physiochemical and biological characteristics of pipe deposits within the distribution system. The real-time monitoring of THM at different sampling locations will help water distribution operators to identify problematic inorganic/organic pipe deposits that cause increased levels of THM formation.
Hydraulic modeling of a water distribution system is an important tool for water quality management. In addition to basic hydraulic characteristics, modeling identifies water aging and predicts disinfectant decay and DBP formation. Incorporating new data from frequent THM analysis in combination with disinfectant level data will help plant operators build an improved hydraulic model for water quality trend analysis, providing critical information for more targeted and efficient water plant operation.
Water quality levels throughout the distribution system are maintained by systematic flushing programs designed to reduce stationary water in dead-end lines and increase flow volume to minimize water age. The distance of water from the water plant, dead ends in the pipe, and low water usage may cause water quality deterioration. Lower residual disinfectant levels indicate the need to flush, which can cause a significant water loss. By measuring THM concentration in addition to disinfectant levels, operators can better decide on the location and length of flushing to minimize treated water loss.
Water age is emerging as an important issue due to increased THM formation in water distribution systems. Excessive contact time caused by dampened peak-hour demands, distribution piping configurations, areas of reduced water requirements, and fire protection storage can result in elevated THM concentration. Identifying and then reducing dead spaces and stagnation in water storage tanks and looping pipe configurations in water distribution systems will reduce water age. These actions can be triggered appropriately by monitoring THM levels in storage tanks and key locations in the distribution system.
Parker’s On-Line THM Analyzer and benchtop THM Analyzer are easy to operate, integrated Purge-and-Trap Gas Chromatographs (GC) that measure THM concentration at ppb levels in less than 30 minutes right at your own facility without tedious sample preparation.
This integrated system is a powerful tool that can help operators optimize water treatment at the plant and evaluate water age in the distribution system for improved control over the formation of THMs.
Pic. 1. Parker's On-Line THM Analyzer.
Pic. 2. Parker's benchtop THM Analyzer.
Article contributed by Kazi Hassan - technology development manager (water) at Parker Hannifin, Instrumentation Products Division.
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