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Determination of attenuation rates of recycled water disinfection by-products in a natural reservoir system using a laboratory-based approach



A batch test approach was used to assess the in situ attenuation by natural reservoir systems of selected disinfection by-products (DBPs). The aim was to determine which natural attenuation processes (volatilisation, photolysis and biodegradation) dominated for selected trihalomethanes (THMs) and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), common DBPs present in reclaimed water which could be used to potentially augment drinking water supplies. Attenuation rates for THMs were found to be all very similar, with half-lives ranging from 1.5–1.6 days for open batch tests. The dominant attenuation mechanisms for THMs were volatilisation with hydrolysis and biodegradation of potentially minor importance. NDMA had a half-life of 3.5–4.3 days for vials exposed to light. The most important attenuation mechanism for NDMA was photolysis with volatilisation and biodegradation of minor importance. The results indicate that the selected DBPs could be effectively attenuated by a natural reservoir system such as a surface water reservoir.