Riverbank filtration for the treatment of highly turbid Colombian rivers
Abstract. The poor quality of many Colombian surface waters forces us to seek alternative, sustainable treatment solutions with the ability to manage peak pollution events and to guarantee the uninterrupted provision of safe drinking water to the population. This review assesses the potential of using riverbank filtration (RBF) for the highly turbid and contaminated waters in Colombia, emphasizing water quality improvement and the influence of clogging by suspended solids. The suspended sediments may be favorable for the improvement of the water quality, but they may also reduce the production yield capacity. The cake layer must be balanced by scouring in order for an RBF system to be sustainable. The infiltration rate must remain high enough throughout the river–aquifer interface to provide the water quantity needed, and the residence time of the contaminants must be sufficient to ensure adequate water quality. In general, RBF seems to be a technology appropriate for use in highly turbid and contaminated surface rivers in Colombia, where improvements are expected due to the removal of turbidity, pathogens and to a lesser extent inorganics, organic matter and micro-pollutants. RBF has the potential to mitigate shock loads, thus leading to the prevention of shutdowns of surface water treatment plants. In addition, RBF, as an alternative pretreatment step, may provide an important reduction in chemical consumption, considerably simplifying the operation of the existing treatment processes. However, clogging and self-cleansing issues must be studied deeper in the context of these highly turbid waters to evaluate the potential loss of abstraction capacity yield as well as the development of different redox zones for efficient contaminant removal.