Bank filtration and other managed aquifer recharge techniques have extensive application in drinking water production throughout the world. Although the quality of surface water improves during these natural processes, residence time in the aquifer and length of the flow paths are critical factors. A wide range of data is available on the physical–chemical processes and hydraulic conditions, but there is limited knowledge about the top layer of the porous media. An investigation was conducted on the hydraulic behavior and on the change of microbiological indicator parameters in the filter cake. The purpose of the experiment was to: (1) investigate if the reverse osmosis is sustainable when fed with only slow filtered water, and (2) show that a short travel distance can provide extensive pathogen removal and beneficial conditions for the reverse osmosis. A slow sand filter was operated over a one-year long period while changes in head loss and microbiological parameters were being monitored. Head loss and membrane permeability were monitored between 3 November 2016 and 24 October 2018 and microbiological sampling was performed from 19 July 2017 to 6 November 2018. The filtered water was fed to a reverse osmosis (RO) filter as the water above the sand filter had been spiked with dissolved iron. Results show that even a thin biofilm cake of 1–3 mm thickness can result in a significant (10–100%) reduction in microbiological activity in the infiltrate, while favorable short retention times and oxic conditions are maintained. Avoiding anoxic conditions, subsequent iron and manganese dissolution and precipitation is beneficial for membrane processes. Building on these results, it can be stated that when reverse osmosis is directly fed with slow filtered or bank filtered water, (1) a short distance from the surface water body is required to avoid dissolved iron and manganese from entering the groundwater and (2) proper pathogen rejection can be achieved even over short distances.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited