Potabilization (or purification of water) is a physicochemical process consisting of removing contaminants from raw water in order to obtain water suitable for normal domestic consumption, irrigation fields or industrial uses (for example, use by food establishments).
Due to the gradual depletion of natural sources of drinking water (deep waters), more water is being used from surface waters (seas, rivers, natural and artificial lakes). Depending on the specific characteristics of the water and / or the degree of pollution, these vital sources of water must be subjected to cycles of purification treatments necessary to modify the characteristics of water and to improve its quality
This often occurs even in deep waters with a high content of organic substances and high microbial contamination, especially if there are fecal bacteria (eg E. coli). As for the treatment of seawater, desalination is used. Purification is done by passing raw water (from rivers or lakes) through different types of organic and inorganic filtration facilities.
The disposal methods used may be of a physico-chemical and biological nature, depending on the type of substance to be removed from the raw water entering the facilities. The substances that must be removed during the purification treatment may be of natural and anthropogenic origin. The first type includes, for example:
• Iron and manganese present in the water of deep origin;
• Sulfur hydrogen in groundwater or volcanic areas;
• Sulphates present in deep waters and in areas with thermal activity.
The second type includes for example:
• Heavy metals, such as antimony, arsenic, lead, in detectable concentrations from industrial waste;
• Organic micropollutants such as hydrocarbons, pesticides and solvents;
• Ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, etc.
In addition, the raw water also contains micro-organisms such as:
• bacteria (pathogenic or environmental);
The sequence of purification processes to be undertaken must be designed to guarantee certain characteristic of the treated water:
• Adequate organoleptic characteristics: taste, smell, color, turbidity;
• Appropriate physical characteristics: such as temperature, electrical conductivity and pH;
• Appropriate chemo-biological characteristics: such as hardness, salinity, micropollutants, organic load, microbiological life (eg removal of pathogens through disinfection).
Nonetheless, the fact that water is by nature a solvent complicates the elimination of many undesirable substances. The purified water is introduced into a main tank from which the drinking water supply system comes.
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