Evaluation of a small scale water disinfection system using WFMF
Alfa, Dorcas Enaji
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Provision of microbiologically safe drinking water for people living in the rural areas of developing countries remains a major challenge to date. One of the reasons is due to the inability to access potable water mainly because of poor existing water purification systems. Current measures have been put in place to address the challenges of rural water supply. Development of appropriate technologies such as decentralized water treatment supply in the form of point of use (POU) systems are been considered. In lieu of the above, an appropriate POU system known as the Remote Rural Water Treatment System (RRWTS) was developed at Durban University of Technology (DUT). The RRWTS is polyester based locally sourced Woven Fabric Microfiltration (WFMF) membrane system. The unit is made up of flat sheet modules that are assembled into a pack. It is a robust gravity driven system with the ability to remove suspended solids and colloids in the form of turbidity. The system has high flux of 35 ± 7 LMH and turbidity below 1 NTU, it has the ability to remove pathogens well above 95%. However, this does not comply with WHO and SANS drinking water standards of zero E. coli count/100 ml of treated water. In order to bring the water treated by RRWTS to a satisfactory level for drinking, it is then necessary to add a separate disinfection step like chlorination step to further remove the remaining microbial contaminants. Thus the main objective of the study was to evaluate the disinfection efficacy of two disinfectants namely waterguard and bromochlor tablet disinfectants and investigate their integration with the WFMF membrane. The study was categorised into three parts. The first part is the addition of disinfectants to unfiltered river water sources for the determination of residual chlorine and the most optimum dose that will yield effective disinfection and also evaluate the extent of E. coli removal by the disinfectants. The second stage was the filtration of four river water sources using the woven fibre membrane (WFM) to determine the efficiency of WFMF. Finally the effect of disinfection kinetics on disinfection was achieved by agitating the water after disinfection and allowing it to stand at different contact times. Performance of the RRWTS was determined by the amount of E. coli and turbidity removed during filtration using WFMF and by chemical disinfectants after filtration. The results on residual chlorine for different water sources showed that feed quality and disinfectant dose determines the quantity of residual chlorine on all the water sources. The effectiveness of chemical disinfectants in E. coli removal is affected by the quality of water to be disinfected. The study showed that turbidity plays a major role on disinfection by increasing chlorine demand on water sources with high turbidity levels. The WFMF demonstrated excellent filtration performance by producing permeates with turbidity less than 1 NTU for feed turbidities ranging from 10 to 200 NTU. The E. coli removal efficiency by WFMF was very high on all the water sources treated. There was 95-99.8% E. coli removal on raw feeds with influent E. coli ranging between 500 and 44500 CFU/100 ml. It was seen that major benefits are derived from integrating the WFMF (RRWTS) with chemical disinfection. The benefits includes; better disinfection that meets drinking water set guidelines of zero E. coli and improved quality of water. The need for disinfection kinetics in order to obtain superior disinfection was eliminated. The possibility of disinfection-by-product formation was reduced as smaller quantities of chemical disinfectants were required for complete disinfection on the filtered water.