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Implementation of biological filtration for the treatment of cyanobacterial metabolites

Project Number # 1021

Implementation of biological filtration for the treatment of cyanobacterial metabolites

Project Leader:  Gayle Newcombe

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Biological processes have been utilised for centuries for the treatment of drinking water. They are low technology processes that generally require little or no maintenance or running costs, and have the advantage of being a “natural” treatment, without the addition of chemicals or the possibility of harmful by-products. Biological removal of metabolites of cyanobacteria was studied extensively during CRC project 2405, “Biological Filtration Processes for the Removal of Algal Metabolites” (CRC project report no. 64). During that project, and an associated project, an AwwaRF/CRC partnership, “Towards the Development of Biosensors for the Detection of MIB and Geosmin”, a number of outcomes were achieved that are of significant benefit to the water industry. While these two projects successfully achieved most of their stated objectives, the information was not sufficient to establish design criteria and operating guidelines for the implementation of biological filtration processes for the removal of cyanobacterial metabolites in operating water treatment plants. One of the reasons such criteria have yet to be developed is that although it has been shown that biological filtration is achievable at full-scale the effect appears to be site specific, and we are yet to identify the specific factors that will allow the implementation of this process at a range of sites under varying conditions. In particular, the time taken for a degrading biofilm to establish (the lag period) has been shown to be extremely variable, and this is a major consideration for the effective and confident application of biological filtration as a treatment barrier.

The objective of this project was to develop operational guidelines for the implementation of biological filtration for the removal of cyanobacterial metabolites at full scale water treatment plants (WTPs).

Project Documents