According to predictions based on anticipated population aging and climate change, the concentrations of pharmaceuticals in surface water will significantly increase in the years ahead. Because of protracted low river flows, particularly in the Meuse, and increased pharmaceutical use related to aging, water quality in these drinking water sources will drop radically, particularly in the summer and autumn (at the lowest flow levels). In addition, many of the existing drinking water treatment systems were not designed with a view to removing pharmaceuticals and their transformation products. In the case of artificial recharge and river-bank filtration, the ground passage contributes considerably to improving the quality of raw water, including in reference to pharmaceuticals.
This project’s objective is to determine the extent to which current treatment of surface water (ground passage and post-treatment) will suffice in the future, given the expected deterioration of raw water quality associated with population aging and climate change. It should result in recommendations concerning the extent to which improvements in the organisation and operational management of ground passage systems can contribute to improved raw water quality.
Research into ground passage systems
The researchers develop and test a work method whereby the reduction in pharmaceutical concentrations, through dilution, sorption and breakdown, can be separately assessed in all the ground passage systems considered. They then inventorize, compare and identify differences and similarities among the different ground passage systems. Based on the resulting knowledge, different development scenarios of surface water quality will be considered. These scenarios will be incorporated into the currently ongoing BTO project: ‘Improving water quality prognosis at intake points’.
Extensive methods or adjustments are elaborated with a view to enhancing the quality improvements produced through ground passage systems. An evaluation framework will be developed to enable an assessment of the added value of (enhanced) quality improvement through ground passage, compared to the extent to which the quality improvement can be achieved by extending the raw water treatment process.
Symposium on improvements in ground passage systems
Besides an overview of extensive methods of adjustments for quality improvements through ground passage and an evaluation framework, this project will also result in a symposium where the outcomes will be presented.