Technology Development to Support Drinking Water Treatment Response to Climate Change and Increasingly Variable Source Water Quality

The physico-chemical processes of coagulation, flocculation, clarification, and filtration, collectively referred to as “chemically-assisted filtration” (CAF), are integral to resilient drinking water treatment—their use to ensure the provision of safe drinking water is therefore a regulatory requirement across North America. Treatment credits are assigned based on achievement of filtered water turbidity targets. Recent work has shown that turbidity is inadequate for assessing protozoan pathogen removal by CAF in high quality source water systems because it does not reliably reflect the adequacy of particle destabilization achieved by coagulant addition—this is critical for effective filtration. Zeta potential analysis (ZPA) indicates particle destabilization; however, it is not widely used in the water industry, despite the increasingly urgent need for real-time coagulant dosing support in response to climate change-exacerbated landscape disturbances (e.g., wildfires, floods). This project will advance Malvern Panalytical’s delivery of customer-focused solutions that deliver tangible economic impact through physico-chemical analysis of materials by (1) demonstrating ZPA integration with conventional indicators (e.g., turbidity) to optimize water treatment performance/pathogen removal, (2) evaluating ZPA as a climate change adaptation tool for informing coagulant dosing during severe disturbances/flooding, and (3) developing and validating operational guidance for ZPA implementation and identification of system-specific performance targets.

Jesse Skwaruk
Faculty Supervisor: 
Monica Emelko
Partner University: