Benefits and hurdles of using brackish groundwater as a drinking water source in the Netherlands

P.J. Stuijfzand, K.J. Raat

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    The production of fresh drinking water from brackish groundwater by reverse osmosis (BWRO) is becoming more attractive, even in temperate climates. For successful application of BWRO, the following approach is advocated: (1) select brackish source groundwater with a large volume and a composition that will yield a concentrate (waste water) with low mineral saturation; (2) maintain the feed water salinity at a constant level by pumping several wells with different salinities; (3) keep the permeate-to-concentrate ratio low, to avoid supersaturation in the concentrate; (4) keep the system anoxic (to avoid oxidation reactions) and pressurized (to prevent formation of gas bubbles); and (5) select a confined aquifer for deep well injection where groundwater quality is inferior to the membrane concentrate. This approach is being tested at two BWRO pilot plants in the Netherlands. Research issues are the pumping of a stable brackish source water, the reverse osmosis system performance, membrane fouling, quality changes in the target aquifer as a result of concentrate disposal, and clogging of the injection well. First evaluations of the membrane concentrate indicate that it is crucial to understand the kinetics of mineral precipitation on the membranes, in the injection wells, and in the target aquifer. © 2009 Springer-Verlag.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)117-130
    JournalHydrogeology Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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