Seasonal and spatial evolution of trihalomethanes in a drinking water distribution system according to the treatment process

  • A Domínguez-Tello
  • A. Arias-Borrego
  • Tamara García-BarreraEmail author
  • J. L. Gómez-Ariza


This paper comparatively shows the influence of four water treatment processes on the formation of trihalomethanes (THMs) in a water distribution system. The study was performed from February 2005 to January 2012 with analytical data of 600 samples taken in Aljaraque water treatment plant (WTP) and 16 locations along the water distribution system (WDS) in the region of Andévalo and the coast of Huelva (southwest Spain), a region with significant seasonal and population changes. The comparison of results in the four different processes studied indicated a clear link of the treatment process with the formation of THM along the WDS. The most effective treatment process is preozonation and activated carbon filtration (P3), which is also the most stable under summer temperatures. Experiments also show low levels of THMs with the conventional process of preoxidation with potassium permanganate (P4), delaying the chlorination to the end of the WTP; however, this simple and economical treatment process is less effective and less stable than P3. In this study, strong seasonal variations were obtained (increase of THM from winter to summer of 1.17 to 1.85 times) and a strong spatial variation (1.1 to 1.7 times from WTP to end points of WDS) which largely depends on the treatment process applied. There was also a strong correlation between THM levels and water temperature, contact time and pH. On the other hand, it was found that THM formation is not proportional to the applied chlorine dose in the treatment process, but there is a direct relationship with the accumulated dose of chlorine. Finally, predictive models based on multiple linear regressions are proposed for each treatment process.


Trihalomethanes Water treatment process Distribution system Ozonation Permanganate Disinfection by-product 



The authors wish to express their appreciation to the plant managers GIAHSA (Gestión Integral del Agua de Huelva S.A.) and employees for their help and cooperation in facilitating the collection of water samples during this study. This work was supported by the project CTM2012-38720-C03-01 from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) and by projects P009-FQM-4659 and P12-FQM-0442 from the Regional Ministry of Economy, Innovation, Science and Employment (Andalusian Government, Spain).

Compliance with ethical standards

The authors manifest that manuscript has not been submitted to other journal and the results have not published previously. Consent to submit has been received explicitly from all co-authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

10661_2015_4885_MOESM1_ESM.docx (413 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 412 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • A Domínguez-Tello
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • A. Arias-Borrego
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Tamara García-Barrera
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • J. L. Gómez-Ariza
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and CC.MM, Faculty of Experimental ScienceUniversity of HuelvaHuelvaSpain
  2. 2.International Agrofood Campus of Excellence International CeiA3University of HuelvaHuelvaSpain
  3. 3.Research Center of Health and Environment (CYSMA)University of HuelvaHuelvaSpain

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