The concentration of a gas in water is directly proportional to the concentration, or partial pressure, of the gas in the atmosphere in contact with the water surface. In general, this involves the water temperature, its salinity, and the altitude. The gases of primary interest to water supply are as follows:
. Oxygen. Large amounts of dissolved oxygen are found in rainwater. The amounts in surface water vary greatly, depending on the amount and type of pollution, the degree of selfpurification, the action of algae, and the temperature of the water. Polluted water will exhaust the oxygen supply, while clean water will contain much dissolved oxygen. Cold water contains larger amounts of dissolved oxygen than warm; as water temperature rises, the dissolved oxygen is released to the atmosphere. Decreased pressure on water has the same effect, releasing oxygen to the atmosphere. Dissolved oxygen causes the solution of metals and, especially in the presence of carbon dioxide, causes many metals to corrode.
. Carbon Dioxide. The presence of carbon dioxide in water contributes to the degree of hardness and acidity of the water. Water acquires this gas in four ways: from the air by natural movements of water in contact with the air, such as currents and wave action; by contact with decomposing vegetation, which gives off carbon dioxide freely; by the reaction of ferric chloride and limestone in the coagulation process; and by contact with the gas in underground deposits. A high carbon dioxide content usually makes water more corrosive to metals.
. Hydrogen Sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide in solution lends a disagreeable taste and rotten-egg odor to water. Ground water absorbs sulfides by passing over sulfur-bearing rocks. Hydrogen sulfide is also responsible for the destruction of cement and concrete as well as the corrosion of metals. In small amounts, it is unpleasant but not dangerous. In large amounts it is harmful. Water that smells of hydrogen sulfide should be treated.
Dissolved gases are removed by means of aeration or the use of activated carbon. Aeration exposes as much water as possible to the air. This will release dissolved gases such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Liberating the dissolved gas from the water by aeration permits the oxygen in the air to come in contact with the finely divided water particles, thereby increasing the dissolved oxygen content of the water. This increase of oxygen content removes the offensive taste and odor imparted by the dissolved gases. Aeration raises the pH by eliminating the carbon dioxide, but increases corrosiveness by increasing the amount of dissolved oxygen. One type of aerator consists of trays containing slats or coke over which the water is sprayed. Other methods of aeration include spraying water up over a shallow receiving basin and forcing air into a basin with diffusers or mechanical pump-type aerators similar to those used in sewage treatment. Operation of most aerators is practically automatic; operators' duties consist essentially of making sure pipes, slots, and surfaces are not clogged and that air has free access to the water. If the water is not to be filtered after aeration, aerators must be screened to keep out insects and other foreign matter.
Activated carbon is a specially treated granular powdered carbon. It absorbs or attracts large quantities of dissolved gases. It is extremely effective in taste and odor control, provided the
1. type of activated carbon used meets minimum standards,
2. dosage is correct,
3. carbon is mixed intimately with the water, and
4. carbon is in contact with the water for an adequate period.
Acceptable commercial preparations of activated carbon should meet the following minimum specifications:
1. It does not contain any soluble mineral injurious to health.
2. Moisture content is not over 8.0 percent.
3. It is powdered form that wets down and goes into suspension readily, does not settle too rapidly, and does not float on the surface when applied.
4. At least 99 percent of the carbon in water suspension passes a 100-mesh sieve and 95 percent passes a 200-mesh sieve.
5. It has enough adsorption capacity to reduce a concentration of 0.1 milligrams per liter (mg/l) phenol in distilled water to 0.01 ppm.
Because of the wide range in waters, no general rule can be given for activated-carbon dosage. The dose required at each water plant must be determined by periodic laboratory tests. The test is made by preparing a number of samples of raw water, adding the standard amount of treating chemicals and varying amounts of carbon to each sample, allowing plant contact time, filtering, and making odor tests. Numerical comparison can be made with the threshold odor test. A carbon dose of 3 ppm removes most tastes and odors from water. However, dosages can vary from 3 to 15 ppm, depending upon the odor of the water. Laboratory tests will determine the dosage.
Activated carbon is fed into the water by dry feeders. It must be handled more carefully than coagulant because it is a fine powder; therefore, the feeder must bean approved type and designed to prevent the spreading of the carbon dust and causing fires. In addition, inhaling of the dust by personnel, even in low concentration, can affect their lungs. The dry feeder room should have explosion proof electrical equipment. A spark or pilot flame can create an explosion. Dry carbon will float on the surface of the water for a long time. Therefore, it is important that the carbon be wetted thoroughly, mixed by agitation using a paddle wheel, swirling action, a spray, or so forth, in a small tank. Some dry feeders have a mixing chamber in which the carbon is wetted by the swirling action of the water.
Activated carbon may be applied to the water at one or several points, depending on the results desired. Carbon is added at one or more of the following points:
. In the raw water, as early as possible after it enters the plant. This point of application is not recommended for extremely turbid waters.
. In the mixing basin. When added before sedimentation, activated carbon not only removes foreign matter from the water, but the carbon that settles in the sedimentation basin continues to absorb products of sludge decomposition, thus preventing formation of secondary tastes and odors. Black alum is premixed activated carbon and coagulant that can be used in special situations both as a coagulant and for taste and odor control.