Artificial groundwater recharge is commonly used for drinking water supply. The resulting water quality is highly dependent on the raw water quality. In many cases, pretreatment is required. Pretreatment improves the drinking water quality, although how and to what extent it affects the subsequent pond water quality and infiltration process, is still unknown. We evaluated two treatment systems by applying different pretreatment methods for raw water from a eutrophic and temperate lake. An artificial recharge pond was divided into two parts, where one received raw water, only filtered through a microscreen with 500 µm pores (control treatment), while the other part received pretreated lake water using chemical flocculation with polyaluminum chloride (PACl) combined with sand filtration, i.e., continuous contact filtration (contact filter treatment). Water quality factors such as cyanobacterial biomass, microcystin, as well as organic matter and nutrients were measured in both treatment processes. Microcystin condition was screened by an immunoassay and a few selected samples were examined by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC–MS/MS) which is a chemistry technique that combines the physical separation capabilities of liquid chromatography with the mass analysis capabilities of mass spectrometry. Results showed that cyanobacterial biomass and microcystin after the contact filter treatment were significantly different from the control treatment and also significantly different in the pond water. In addition, with contact filter treatment, total phosphorus (TP) and organic matter removal were significantly improved in the end water, TP was reduced by 96% (<20 µg/L) and the total organic carbon (TOC) was reduced by 66% instead of 55% (TOC content around 2.1 mg/L instead of 3.0 mg/L). This full-scale onsite experiment demonstrated effective pretreatment would benefit a more stable water quality system, with less variance and lower microcystin risk. From a broader drinking water management perspective, the presented method is promising for reducing cyanotoxin risk, as well as TP and TOC, which are all predicted to increase with global warming and extreme weather.
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