Articles | Volume 4, issue 1
04 Jan 2011
 | 04 Jan 2011

Metals releases and disinfection byproduct formation in domestic wells following shock chlorination

M. Walker and J. Newman

Abstract. Shock chlorination is used for rapid disinfection to control pathogens and nuisance bacteria in domestic wells. A typical shock chlorination procedure involves adding sodium hypochlorite in liquid bleach solutions to achieve concentrations of free chlorine of up to 200 mg L−1 in the standing water of a well. The change in pH and oxidation potential may bring trace metals from aquifer materials into solution and chlorine may react with dissolved organic carbon to form disinfection byproducts. We carried out experiments with four wells to observe and determine the persistence of increased concentrations of metals and disinfection byproducts. Water samples from shock chlorinated wells were analyzed for Pb, Cu, As, radionuclides and disinfection byproducts (haloacetic acids and trihalomethanes), immediately prior to treatment, after sufficient treatment time with chlorine had elapsed, and at intervals determined by the number of casing volumes purged, for up to four times the well casing volume.

Elevated concentrations of lead and copper dissipated in proportion to free chlorine (measured semi-quantitatively) during the purging process. Trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids were formed in wells during disinfection. In one of two wells tested, disinfection byproducts dissipated in proportion to free chlorine during purging. However, one well retained disinfection byproducts and free chlorine after 4 WV had been purged. Although metals returned to background concentrations in this well, disinfection byproducts remained elevated, though below the MCL. This may have been due to well construction characteristics and interactions with aquifer materials. Simple chlorine test strips may be a useful method for indicating when purging is adequate to remove metals and disinfection by-products mobilized and formed by shock chlorination.