Investigation for the use of activated carbon at WWTP

Because the new Water Framework Directive (WFD) will enter into force, which implies that the surface water must have a good chemical and biological condition, additional measures will have to be taken at various locations in the Netherlands to achieve this. As a source of pollution in some waters, the WWTP plays an important role in the prevailing water quality. A number of problem substances have been identified as priorities, but for the time being no standards and ecological targets have been definitively established in permit regulations. In particular for herbicides, pesticides, medicine residues and hormone disrupting substances, the WWTP can make an important contribution to water quality improvement. Four Water Boards: Rivierenland Water Board, Delfland Water Board, Aa and Maas Water Board, and De Dommel Water Board have acknowledged this and, together with Norit, Royal Haskoning and Logisticon Water Treatment, carried out research in the Stowa context.

For each WWTP, specific problem substances are a point of attention, namely:

  • for the WWTP De Nieuwe Waterweg, these are herbicides and pesticides with the greenhouse horticulture as a source;
  • for the Oijen WWTP, medicines and hormones with the pharmaceutical industry as their source, hospital Oss and households;
  • for the WWTP Nijmegen, this is the toxicity of the effluent;
  • for the Biest-Houtakker WWTP this is dissolved organic phosphate with the source textile industry, toxicity and hormones and medicines.

Previous research has shown that activated carbon can play an important role in the removal of these problem substances. However, the necessity to first remove COD and suspended matter in a sand filter before the water is treated with activated carbon to the desired quality is now being investigated. If a pre-treatment can be cancelled, this can result in a large cost saving. The hypothesis that this affects the duration and replacement costs of the activated carbon was examined in practice at the end of 2009 in four demonstration installations of 25-50 m3/h.

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