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Publication Abstract

Waste from the Water Treatment Plant at Alton and Its Impact on the Mississippi River Evans, Ralph L., Thomas E. Hill, Donald H. Schnepper, and David Hullinger, 1982  Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, IL,  ISWS C-156    Full Text Available

The treatment of water for public supplies in Illinois is accomplished by a variety of processes. The basic methods require facilities for clarification; softening by lime, soda ash, and ion exchange; iron and manganese removal; and solely chlorination. With the exception of chlorination, each treatment process produces a quantity of wastes. These wastes consist mainly of solids in the suspended and dissolved form at concentrations exceeding that of the raw water being treated. The solids are derived from suspended and dissolved forms in the source water, the chemical additions, and the resultant chemical reactions.

The two principal sources of waste from water treatment plants in Illinois are basin sludge and waste derived from backwash operations. The characteristics of the waste are a function of the treatment process. Basin sludge from lime softening plants consists principally of calcium carbonate, hydroxides of magnesium, aluminum, and other coagulants; inorganic debris; and organic matter. Sludges from clarification units are basically a mixture of aluminum hydroxide, polyelectrolytes or other coagulants, inorganic debris, and organic matter. The quantity and composition of the filter backwash water are functions of the process and the efficiency of the treatment units preceding the filter. Wastes from ion exchange units are derived from recharge operation and are exceedingly high in dissolved solids.

The State Water Survey initiated an examination of the production, composition, and disposal practices of wastes from water treatment plants in Illinois during 1968-1969. This work by Evans and Schnepper (1970) led to several findings. One was that "The variability of treatment plant processes, dictated by raw water quality and the habits of operating personnel, precluded any definitive conclusions applicable to alt areas of the state." Nevertheless considerable experience was gained toward the development of sampling and analytical techniques designed to quantify and characterize the waste generated at water treatment plants. But a lesson had been learned one cannot generalize about the production of wastes at water treatment facilities nor the impact of the wastes on the aquatic environment.

Several years later an opportunity developed leading t6 a site-specific study at water treatment facilities serving the city of Pontiac, Illinois. The study by Evans et al. (1979) was designed to assess...

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