Production of drinking water from raw water containing cyanobacteria—pilot plant studies for assessing the risk of microcystin breakthrough



Toxins in cyanobacteria are a recognized risk in the treatment of drinking-water treatment. Cyanotoxins can occur in two modifications: cell bound and dissolved in water. The process of toxin release may occur naturally, but it also may be induced through the processes of drinking-water treatment. Both causes of release are relevant to the safety of drinking water. This study investigated cyanotoxin release and elimination through different treatment trains in systematic pilot-scale studies with water from the Weida Reservoir, in Thuringia, Germany. The Weida Reservoir is a dimictic mesoeutrophic reservoir typical for a number of mountainous areas in Europe, with Planktothrix rubescens as the dominant phytoplankton species, and shows a characteristic seasonal pattern of population development and microcystin occurrence. To assess the risk of microcystin breakthrough, the pilot-scale results as well as results of laboratory-scale experiments were used for developing a kinetic model of toxin release in relation to elimination. By calculating removal efficiency of total microcystins (cell bound and dissolved) for different treatment trains, raw water quality was related to the quality targets for finished water, and breakthrough risks could be calculated for given treatment trains and varying cyanobacterial population densities in the reservoir. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 17: 375–385, 2002; Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI 10.1002/tox.10067