Prioritization of micropollutants based on removal effort in drinking water purification treatment

Tessa E. Pronk*, Astrid Fischer, Annemijne E.T. van den Berg, Roberta C.H.M. Hofman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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A main focus of water managers with regard to micropollutants is the protection of aquatic ecology. However, micropollutants also have the potential to affect the production of clean drinking water. In this paper, we propose to consider the removal effort when assessing micro-pollutants with an ‘Effort Index’ (EI). Assessments using the EI show which micropollutants need more extensive monitoring or abatement because of their difficulty to be removed using low-effort water purification treatment techniques. For water containing mixtures of micro-pollutants, the averaged EI values can indicate overall water quality. Data on the removal by different purification treatment techniques are not necessarily available for all micropollutants. Therefore, a set of data-driven indicative removal rules is derived to quantify the relation between micropollutant properties and different drinking water treatment techniques. The indicative removal rules provide a rough indication of removability. As an illustration, the water quality of the river Rhine is evaluated between 2000 and 2018. The EI value shows that the Rhine contains increasingly more difficult-to-remove micropollutants. In total, 18 of those are labeled as particularly difficult-to-remove chemicals. These micropollutants are suggested as candidates for abatement to lower the required effort in drinking water production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-198
Number of pages15
JournalWater Quality Research Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • micropollutants
  • model
  • prioritization
  • purification treatment
  • removal
  • water quality


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