Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
Research article
18 May 2016
Research article |  | 18 May 2016

Estimating fast and slow reacting components in surface water and groundwater using a two-reactant model

Priyanka Jamwal, M. N. Naveen, and Yusuf Javeed

Abstract. Maintaining residual chlorine levels in a water distribution network is a challenging task, especially in the context of developing countries where water is usually supplied intermittently. To model chlorine decay in water distribution networks, it is very important to understand chlorine kinetics in bulk water. Recent studies have suggested that chlorine decay rate depends on initial chlorine levels and the type of organic and inorganic matter present in water, indicating that a first-order decay model is unable to accurately predict chlorine decay in bulk water. In this study, we employed the two-reactant (2R) model to estimate the fast and slow reacting components in surface water and groundwater. We carried out a bench-scale test for surface water and groundwater at initial chlorine levels of 1, 2, and 5 mg L−1. We used decay data sets to estimate optimal parameter values for both surface water and groundwater. After calibration, the 2R model was validated with two decay data sets with varying initial chlorine concentrations (ICCs). This study arrived at three important findings. (a) We found that the ratio of slow to fast reacting components in groundwater was 30 times greater than that of the surface water. This observation supports the existing literature which indicates the presence of high levels of slow reacting fractions (manganese and aromatic hydrocarbons) in groundwater. (b) Both for surface water and groundwater, we obtained good model prediction, explaining 97 % of the variance in data for all cases. The mean square error obtained for the decay data sets was close to the instrument error, indicating the feasibility of the 2R model for chlorine prediction in both types of water. (c) In the case of deep groundwater, for high ICC levels (> 2 mg L−1), the first-order model can accurately predict chlorine decay in bulk water.

Short summary
For centuries free chlorine has been effectively used as a disinfectant to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases. Studies have found that a minimum of 0.2 mg L−1 of chlorine should be maintained within the distribution system so as to prevent any risk to human health. However, maintaining 0.2 mg L−1 of free chlorine within the distribution system is a challenging task. Addition of high-dose chlorine lends the water an odour and leads to other health-related problems to upstream consumers.