Spatio-temporal variation in trihalomethanes in New South Wales

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Summerhayes, RJ, Morgan, GG, Lincoln, D, Edwards, HP, Earnest, A, Rahman, MB, Byleveld, P, Cowie, CT & Beard, JR 2011, 'Spatio-temporal variation in trihalomethanes in New South Wales', Water Research, vol. 45, no. 17, pp. 5715-26.

Published article available from:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2011.08.045

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Aim: This paper describes the spatio-temporal variation of trihalomethanes in drinking water in New South Wales, Australia from 1997 to 2007.

Method: We obtained data on trihalomethanes (THMs) from two metropolitan and 13 rural water utilities and conducted a descriptive analysis of the spatial and temporal trends in THMs and the influence of season and drought.

Results: Concetrations of monthly THMs in the two metropolitan water utilities of Sydney/Illawarra (mean 66.8µg/L) were similar compared to the considerable variation between rural water utilities (range in mean THMs: 14.5–330.7 μg/L). Chloroform was the predominate THM in two-thirds of the rural water utilities. Higher concentrations of THMs were found in chlorinated water distribution systems compared to chloraminated systems, and in distribution systems sourced from surface water compared to ground water or mixed surface and ground water. Ground water sourced supplies had a greater proportion of brominated THMs than surface water sourced supplies. There was substantial variation in concentration of THMs between seasons and between periods of drought or no drought. There was a moderate correlation between heavy rainfall and elevated concentrations of THMs.

Conclusion: There is considerable spatial and temporal variation in THMs amongst New South Wales water utilities and these variations are likely related to water source, treatment processes, catchments, drought and seasonal factors.

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