Articles | Volume 11, issue 2
Research article
30 Jul 2018
Research article |  | 30 Jul 2018

Comprehensive analysis of the start-up period of a full-scale drinking water biofilter provides guidance for optimization

Loren Ramsay, Inês L. Breda, and Ditte A. Søborg

Related subject area

Treatment: Biological treatment
Effect of biostimulation on biodegradation of dissolved organic carbon in biological filters
K. Tihomirova, A. Briedis, J. Rubulis, and T. Juhna
Drink. Water Eng. Sci., 5, 23–29,,, 2012
Effects of ozonation and temperature on the biodegradation of natural organic matter in biological granular activated carbon filters
L. T. J. van der Aa, L. C. Rietveld, and J. C. van Dijk
Drink. Water Eng. Sci., 4, 25–35,,, 2011

Cited articles

Albers, C. N., Ellegaard-Jensen, L., Harder, C. B., Rosendahl, S., Knudsen, R. E., Ekelund, F., and Aamand, J.: Groundwater Chemistry Determines the Prokaryotic Community Structure of Waterworks Sand Filters, Environ. Sci. Technol., 49, 839–846, 2015. 
APHA/AWWA/WEF: Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 17th edition, American Public Health Association, American Water Works Association and Water Environment Federation, Washington, DC, USA, 1989. 
BEK 802: Bekendtgørelse om Vandkvalitet og Tilsyn med Vandforsyningsanlæg. June 1, 2016, Danish Ministry of the Environment, Denmark, available at: (last access: February 2018), 2016. 
Bray, R. and Olańczuk-Neyman, K.: The influence of changes in groundwater composition on the efficiency of manganese and ammonia nitrogen removal on mature quartz sand filtering beds, Water Sci. Tech.-W. Supp., 1, 91–98, 2001. 
Breda, I. L., Ramsay, L., and Søborg, D. A.: The Role of Backwash in Start-up of Full-Scale Drinking Water Biofilters, J. Water Supply Res. T., 65, 234–243, 2016. 
Short summary
Many waterworks utilize sand filters that rely on microorganisms for water treatment. When new, these biofilters require several months for the growth of microorganisms before they become functional. This study is the most thorough documentation of this start-up process to date. Results show that the onset of removal of individual substances proceeds in a well-defined order and that the different filter depths have different functions, suggesting which activities may shorten the start-up period.