Sustainable Distributed Drinking Water Treatment for Small Water Systems

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Distribution System Contaminants

Realizing the risks from distribution system contaminants has prompted the embracement of the “multiple barrier” approach in drinking water treatment. This approach includes the protection of source water quality, multi-level treatment applied at the water treatment plant, distribution system monitoring and protection, and finally using POU/POE systems as the last barrier for consumer protection (Abbaszadegan et al., 1997; Baker et al., 2006; McEncroe, 2007).

In cases where the contaminants enter in the distribution system through cross-connection, back flow, or contamination of reservoirs; POU and POE alternatives may be the only feasible option to respond to such contamination. Examples of distribution system contaminants are disinfection byproducts (DBPs), copper, aluminum, and lead (Williams et al., 1997; Srinivasan et al., 1999; Smith et al., 2001). Moreover, with increasingly stringent drinking water quality standards, municipalities are faced with two options, either to modify water treatment plants to comply with the new standards or to adopt a decentralized water treatment strategy where some contaminants can be removed at the small scale or point-of-use level (Cotruvo and Cotruvo, 2003). The choice is to some extent based on a comparative benefit analysis mainly governed by the cost of each alternative.

 

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