Minimisation of regulated and unregulated disinfection by-products in drinking water

DBPDisinfection by-products (DBPs) are a group of chemical compounds that are generated from unintentional chemical reactions that occur between drinking water disinfectants (e.g. chlorine) and natural and anthropogenic constituents in water (e.g. organic matter, bromide and iodide). Some DBPs are suspected to be of public health importance (e.g. according to their reported mutagenicity) and thus are regulated in the water industry, with water companies in England and Wales required to ‘minimise disinfection by-products’ in the water that they supply to the public. Hundreds of potential DBPs have been reported in the academic and industry literature, though only a handful of these are currently regulated in most countries.

The Drinking Water Inspectorate in 2012 stated that for PR14 water companies must show that they “design, operate and maintain the disinfection process so as to keep disinfection by-products as low as possible without compromising the effectiveness of the disinfection“. Even though Anglian Water has always attempted to achieve the appropriate balance of disinfecting potable water whilst maintaining compliance to the regulatory DBP limits within the distribution systems, they are continuing to investigate ways to keep DBP concentrations “as low as possible“.

As such, Imperial College London and Anglian Water have launched this PhD project with the aim to establish operational strategies to simultaneously minimise the formation of a wide range of DBPs during drinking water treatment and distribution. The PhD project commenced on 18 November 2013 and the provisional completion date is November 2016.