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Assist. Prof. Serdar DORUEL ITU Environmental Engineering Department

2013-2014 Autumn Semester


The Hydrologic Cycle and Water Availability Groundwater Supplies Surface Water Supplies Water Treatment Softening Ion Exchange and Reverse Osmosis Lime Soda Softening

The Hydrologic Cycle and Water Availability

Hydrologic cycle includes the precipitation of water from clouds, infiltration into the ground or runoff into surface watercourses, followed by evaporation and transpiration of the water back into the atmosphere.

Figure 1. The hydrologic cycle in diagram form

Precipitation Precipitation is the term applied to all forms of moisture originating in the atmosphere and falling to the ground (e.g., rain, sleet, and snow). Precipitation is measured with gauges that record in inches of water. The depth of precipitation over a given region is often useful in estimating the availability of water.

Evaporation and Transpiration Evaporation and transpiration are the two ways water reenters the atmosphere. Evaporation is loss from free water surfaces while transpiration is loss by plants.
Same meteorological factors that influence evaporation (solar radiation, ambient air temperature, humidity, wind speed, etc.) also impact the transpiration.

Because evaporation and transpiration are so difficult to measure separately, they are often combined into a single term, evapotranspiration.

Water on the surface of earth that is exposed to the atmosphere is called surface water. Surface waters include rivers, lakes, oceans, etc.
Through the process of percolation, some surface water (especially during a precipitation event) seeps into the ground and becomes groundwater.

Both groundwater and surface water can be used as sources of water for communities.

Groundwater Supplies
Groundwater is both an important direct source of water supply and a significant indirect source of supply as a large portion of the flow to streams is derived from subsurface water. Water exists both near and far below the soil surface.

Zone of Aeration (Vadose Zone) Near the surface of earth, soil pore spaces contain both air and water. This zone is known as the zone of aeration, or vadose zone.

It may have zero thickness in swamplands and be several hundred feet thick in arid regions.
Moisture from the zone of aeration cannot be tapped as a water supply source because this water is held to the soil particles by capillary forces and is not readily released.

Below the zone of aeration is the zone of saturation, where the pores are filled with water. Water within the zone of saturation is referred to as groundwater. A stratum that contains a substantial amount of groundwater is called an aquifer.

Porosity The amount of water that can be stored in the aquifer is equal to the volume of the void spaces between the soil grains. The fraction of voids volume to total volume of the soil is termed porosity.

Specific Yield Not all of this water is available for extraction and use because it is so tightly tied to the soil particles. The amount of water that can be extracted is known as specific yield.

Table 1. Typical aquifer parameters

Fudge Factor (K)

The fudge factor K is the coefficient of permeability, an indirect measure of the ability of a soil sample to transmit water. It varies dramatically for different soils, ranging from about 0.05 m/d for clay to over 5000 m/d for gravel. The coefficient of permeability is commonly measured in the laboratory by using permeameters, which consist of a soil sample through which a fluid, such as water, is forced. The flow rate is measured for a given driving force through a known area of soil sample, and the permeability is calculated.

Surface Water Supplies

Surface water supplies are not as reliable as groundwater sources because quantities often fluctuate widely during the course of a year or even a week, and the quality of surface water is easily degraded by various sources of pollution. The variation in the river or stream flow can be so great that even a small demand cannot be met during dry periods, so storage facilities must be constructed to hold the water during wet periods.

The water held by the reservoirs can be saved for the dry periods. The objective is to build these reservoirs sufficiently large to have dependable supplies.
One method of arriving at the proper reservoir size is by constructing a mass curve. In this analysis the total flow in a stream at the point of a proposed reservoir is summed and plotted against time. On the same curve the water demand is plotted, and the difference between the total water flowing in and the water demanded is the quantity that the reservoir must hold if the demand is to be met.

Figure 2. Mass curve showing required storage volumes

A mass curve is actually of little use if only limited stream flow data are available. One years data yield very little information about long-term variations.
For example, was the drought in the above example the worst drought in 20 years, or was the year shown actually a fairly wet year? In such cases, it is necessary to predict statistically the recurrence of events such as droughts and then to design the structures according to a known risk.

Water Treatment
Many aquifers and isolated surface waters are of high water quality and may be pumped from the supply and transmission network directly to any number of end uses, including human consumption, irrigation, industrial processes, and fire control. However, such clean water sources are the exception to the rule, particularly in regions with dense populations or regions that are heavily agricultural. Here, the water supply must receive varying degrees of treatment prior to distribution.

A typical water treatment plant is diagramed in Figure 3. Such plants are made up of a series of reactors or unit operations. Here, the water flows from one process to the next to achieve a desired end product. Each operation is designed to perform a specific function, and the order of these operations is important.

Figure 3. A typical water treatment plant

Some waters (both surface waters and groundwaters) need hardness removed to use them as a potable water source.
Hardness is caused by multivalent cations (or minerals) such as calcium, magnesium, and iron that dissolve from soil and rocks (particularly limestone). While hardness does not cause health problems, it does reduce the effectiveness of soaps and cause scale formation.

Total hardness (TH) is defined as the sum of the multivalent cations in the water. Calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) tend to be the largest components of hardness, so TH is typically approximated as the sum of these two components.
However, iron (Fe2+ and Fe3+), manganese (Mn2+), strontium (Sr2+), and aluminum (Al3+) may also be present in water supplies.

Typical units for hardness are mg/L as CaCO3 and meq/L.

By using these units, the contributions of different substances (e.g., calcium and magnesium) can be added directly. The units of mg/L of a particular substance, such as 10 mg/L of Ca2+, cannot be added directly to the mg/L of a different substance, such as 5 mg/L of Mg2+.

To convert a concentration in mg/L to meq/L, divide the concentration by the substances equivalent weight (EW):

C = concentration in mg/L

Cq = concentration in meq/L EW = equivalent weight in g/eq or mg/meq

A substances equivalent weight is calculated by dividing its atomic weight (AW) or molecular weight (MW) by its valence or ionic charge (n, which is always positive).

Here, AW or MW has units of g/mole and n has units of equivalents/ mole (eq/mol). To convert to the standard unit mg/L as CaCO3, the meq/L concentration is multiplied by the equivalent weight of CaCO3, which is 50.0 g/eq or 50.0 mg/meq.

Water is classified as soft or hard depending on the amount of hardness ions present. The water in the above example would be classified as very hard.
Surface water is generally soft because fewer minerals dissolve in it. Water treatment plants typically distribute moderately hard water, in the range of 80 to 90 mg/L as CaCO3. It is difficult to rinse off soap if the water is too soft, and some hardness can protect the distribution system from corrosion.

Table 2. Water hardness classifications

Ion Exchange and Reverse Osmosis

Reverse Osmosis Point-of-use reverse osmosis units are used in homes. Large-scale units are used in locations with severely limited freshwater supplies, but copious quantities of saltwater.



Figure 4. (A) A typical point-of-use reverse osmosis unit; (B) schematic

Reverse osmosis uses high pressure to push water molecules through a membrane, resulting in treated water on one side and a concentrated wastewater on the other.
The process produces water with low dissolved minerals and removes some bacteria.

However, reverse osmosis is slow and generates large quantities of wastewater; it is also expensive to operate.

Home units often come with an activated carbon filter to remove chlorine and improve the taste of the water.
For waters with high hardness, they will typically follow a whole-house ion exchange softener.

Ion Exchange Ion exchange, or zeolite, softening is most applicable to waters that are high in non-carbonate hardness because it can be removed without chemical addition.
On the other hand, total hardness should be less than 350 mg/L as CaCO3. Ion exchange softeners are often used in residences that have wells.

The hard water passes through a column containing resin. The resin adsorbs the hardness ions, exchanging them for sodium typically. This is why softened water often tastes salty and why people on low-sodium and sodium-free diets should avoid drinking it.

Once the resin no longer removes the amount of hardness desired, a concentrated salt is used to regenerate the resin (remove the hardness ions) so that it can be reused.

As long as the resin is relatively fresh (i.e., it has plenty of sodium remaining), essentially 100% of the hardness will be removed.
Because not all the hardness needs to be removed, part of the water can bypass the system so that, when the treated and untreated water mix, the desired hardness is obtained.

This scenario, of course, is a classical material balance.

Figure 5. (A-B) Typical ion exchange water softener; (C) schematic

Lime Soda Softening

Although some municipal water treatment plants use ion exchange, most use chemical precipitation. The pH of the water is increased, often through the addition of lime. Either quicklime (CaO, unslaked lime) or hydrated lime (Ca(OH)2, slaked lime) is used. Although lime is a calcium species, it is very effective at softening water. Sodium hydroxide can be used, but it is more expensive.

As the pH increases to approximately 10.3, carbonate becomes the dominant species of alkalinity, and CaCO3 (scale) precipitates. As the pH increases to approximately 11, magnesium precipitates as magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2). Non-carbonate hardness is more expensive to precipitate because a carbonate (typically, soda ash, Na2CO3) must be added.

Therefore, calcium carbonate hardness is targeted for removal first, then magnesium carbonate hardness, and finally calcium non-carbonate hardness.

Carbon dioxide in water forms carbonic acid, which must be neutralized (by lime or caustic addition) or removed (through air stripping) before the pH will rise. Due to solubility constraints, precipitation can reduce total hardness to as low as 40 mg/L as CaCO3 (the practical solubility limit).
Due to time constraints, excess lime (lime over the stoichiometric amount) is typically added.

Figure 6. Lime-soda softening reactions

Figure 7 shows a general treatment train for softening. The precipitates are removed through settling. Recarbonation (adding carbon dioxide to the water) is used to lower the pH to ensure that any fine particles not removed in the settling tank resolubilize and that the distributed water has a pH near neutral.

Figure 7. Chemical precipitation water softening process