Natural recovery of infiltration capacity in simulated bank filtration of highly turbid waters

Juan Pablo Gutiérrez*, Doris van Halem, Wim S.J. Uijttewaal, Efraín del Risco, Luuk C. Rietveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


As a consequence of the suspended sediments in river water, cake formation on the streambed and clogging of the aquifer may occur, leading to a decline in the production yield of riverbank filtration systems, particularly in highly turbid river waters. However, naturally occurring flow forces may induce sufficient scouring of the streambed, thereby self-regulating the thickness of the formed cake layer. This study assessed the recovery of the infiltration capacity in a simulated physically clogged riverbank filtration system, due to self-cleansing processes. A straight tilting flume, provided with an infiltration column at the bottom, was used for emulating clogging, infiltration and self-cleansing. Based on the presented research it may be concluded that the infiltration of a mixture of different sediments, as found in natural water bodies, can already be recovered at low shear stresses. Clay and silt behaved very differently, due to the difference in cohesiveness. Clay was found to produce a persistent sticky cake layer, whereas silt penetrated deeper into the bed, both resulting in an absence of infiltration velocity recovery. A cake layer of fine sand sediments was easiest to remove, resulting in dune formation on the streambed. However, due to deep bed clogging by fine sand particles in a coarser streambed, the infiltration velocity did not fully recover. The interaction between mixed suspended sediments (5% clay, 80% silt, and 15% fine sand) resulted in uneven erosion patterns during scouring of the streambed and recovery of the infiltration velocity is low. Altogether it may be concluded that natural recovery of infiltration capacity during river bank filtration of highly turbid waters is expected to occur, as long as the river carries a mixture of suspended sediments and the sand of the streambed is not too coarse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-310
Number of pages12
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2018


  • Infiltration recovery
  • Physical clogging
  • Riverbank filtration
  • Scouring
  • Self-cleansing
  • Turbidity


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