Due to climate change, population growth, industrialization, urbanization, and water contamination, it is becoming more difficult to secure and supply clean and safe drinking water. One of the challenges many water utilities often face is the taste and odor (T&O) problem in drinking water treatment plants, mostly associated with geosmin and 2-MIB. These representative T&O compounds are mainly produced by the metabolism of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), especially in summer. In this study, the correlation between algae blooms and T&O compounds was identified in the intake and raw water of a large-scale water treatment plant in the Republic of Korea. The removal efficiency of geosmin and 2-MIB by each treatment process was intensively evaluated. According to the obtained results, ozonation and granular activated carbon (GAC) adsorption were more effective for removing the troublesome compounds compared to other water treatment processes, such as coagulation/flocculation, filtration, and chlorination. Because of their seasonal concentration variation and different removal rates, optimal operation methods need to be developed and implemented for drinking water treatment plants to solve the T&O problems.
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