Regulated and unregulated halogenated disinfection byproduct formation from chlorination of saline groundwater.Water Res. 2017 10 01; 122:633-644.WR
Coastal utilities exploiting mildly saline groundwater (<150 mg/L chloride) may be challenged by disinfection byproduct (DBP) formation, a concern likely to increase with sea-level rise. Groundwater from North Carolina coastal aquifers is characterized by large variations in concentrations of halides (bromide up to 10,600 μg/L) and dissolved organic carbon (up to 5.7 mg-C/L). Formation of 33 regulated and unregulated halogenated DBPs, including trihalomethanes (THMs), haloacetic acids (HAAs), haloacetonitriles, haloacetamides, and haloacetaldehydes, was measured after simulated chlorination of 24 coastal North Carolina groundwater samples under typical chlorination conditions. Results of chlorination simulation show that THM levels exceeded the Primary Maximum Contaminant Levels in half of the chlorinated samples. Addition of halides to a low salinity groundwater (110 mg/L chloride) indicated that elevated bromide triggered DBP formation, but chloride was not a critical factor for their formation. DBP speciation, but not overall molar formation, was strongly correlated with bromide variations in the groundwater. THMs and HAAs dominated the measured halogenated DBPs on a mass concentration basis. When measured concentrations were weighted by metrics of toxic potency, haloacetonitriles, and to a lesser degree, haloacetaldehydes and HAAs, were the predominant contributors to calculated DBP-associated toxicity. For some samples exhibiting elevated ammonia concentrations, the addition of chlorine to form chloramines in situ significantly reduced halogenated DBP concentrations and calculated toxicity. HAAs dominated the calculated toxicity of chloraminated waters. Reverse osmosis treatment of saline groundwater (chloride >250 mg/L) can reduce DBP formation by removing halides and organic precursors. However, we show that in a case where reverse osmosis permeate is blended with a separate raw groundwater, the residual bromide level in the permeate could still exceed that in the raw groundwater, and thereby induce DBP formation in the blend. DBP-associated calculated toxicity increased for certain blends in this system due to the DBPs resulting from the combination of the elevated bromide concentration in the permeate and the organic precursors from the raw coastal groundwater.