Water quality complaints related to particulate matter and discolored water can be troublesome for water utilities in terms of follow-up investigations and implementation of appropriate actions because particulate matter can enter from a variety of sources; moreover, physicochemical processes can affect the water quality during the purification and transportation processes. The origin of particulates can be attributed to sources such as background organic/inorganic materials from water sources, water treatment plants, water distribution pipelines that have deteriorated, and rehabilitation activities in the water distribution systems. In this study, a practical method is proposed for tracing particulate sources. The method entails collecting information related to hydraulic, water quality, and structural conditions, employing a network flow-path model, and establishing a database of physicochemical properties for tubercles and slimes. The proposed method was implemented within two city water distribution systems that were located in Korea. These applications were conducted to demonstrate the practical applicability of the method for providing solutions to customer complaints. The results of the field studies indicated that the proposed method would be feasible for investigating the sources of particulates and for preparing appropriate action plans for complaints related to particulate matter.
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