Drivers of variability in disinfection by-product formation potential in a chain of thermally stratified drinking water reservoirs

Elias Munthali* (Corresponding author), Rafael Marcé, Maria José Farré

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Eutrophication, run-off and wastewater inputs to lakes have been identified as significant sources of disinfection by-product (DBPs) precursors, which are suspected carcinogens, in chlor(am)inated water. However, studies addressing the impacts of reservoirs and thermal stratification on DBP precursors are scarce. We conducted a seasonal study along a river–reservoir interconnected system, to investigate the effects of hydraulic residence time (HRT), thermal stratification, and seasonality on the levels and speciation of carbonaceous and nitrogenous DBP formation potential (FP) in source waters. Formation of 4 trihalomethanes (THMs), 4 haloacetonitriles (HANs), 2 haloketones and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) was measured on filtered lake water. Total THMs (TTHMs) FP was below 93 μg L−1, of which 59–87% of it was trichloromethane (TCM). Formation of dichloroacetonitrile (DCAN), 1,1,1-trichloropropanone (TCP), and NDMA was under 12 μg L−1, 13 μg L−1 and 73 ng L−1, respectively. The FP of the remaining DBPs was under 2 μg L−1. While the effect of depth on DBP FP was insignificant, inter-system and seasonal effects were conspicuous. The most significant variable affecting DBP formation was season, where carbonaceous DBP FP was higher in autumn and summer than in winter. TTHM FP ranged from a 160% median increase in the river upstream of the reservoirs, to a 31% median increase in the last reservoir of the system, from winter to summer. On the contrary, NDMA FP ranged from a 145% median decrease in the river upstream of the reservoirs to an 11% median decrease in the middle reservoir, from winter to summer. TTHMs FP increased from the river upstream of the reservoirs to the last reservoir of the system (40.6% median increase), whereas the opposite trend was also observed for NDMA FP (63% median decrease).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)968-980
JournalEnvironmental Science: Water Research & Technology
Volume8
Early online date2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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