- Project No 1028
- Project Name Monitoring organic matter in drinking water systems using fluorescence: improved early warning devices, process optimisation and distribution water quality
- Lead Organisation Melbourne Water
- Research Lead UNSW Sydney
- Main Researcher Rita Henderson
Raw source water contains parts of plants, blue-green algae and their toxins, and many other types of organic matter. Identifying the types and amounts of organic matter helps treatment plant operators make informed decisions about the most efficient and cost-effective methods for treating and removing unwanted substances from source waters. The problem is that many of the tests for identifying organic compounds can take hours to days to deliver results. This research developed a test that gives information immediately. It uses three commercially available fluorescent probes that each emit fluorescent light at a specific wavelength. Certain compounds within organic matter, such as proteins, “reflect” the fluorescent light, but at different wavelengths which can be detected by the probes. These patterns of “reflected” fluorescence were related to traditional tests for organic compounds. This on-line fluorescence monitoring was then trialled at real-world treatment plants. The patterns gave reliable information about broad categories of organic compounds and there was a linear correlation between dissolved organic carbon and fluorescent intensity in both raw and treated waters. This research has provided a valuable addition to the suite of tools available for producing safe, high quality drinking water.