Effects of Pretreatment on RO Membranes During a Brackish Groundwater Desalination Pilot Study

By Justin Sutherland et al.

Brackish water Membranes Reverse Osmosis

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In December 2005, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) launched a feasibility assessment as part of its Brackish Groundwater Desalination (BGD) Project. The purpose of the assessment was to evaluate the potential of developing brackish groundwater (1,000 to 3,000 milligrams per liter [mg/L] total dissolved solids [TDS]) from the Lower Wilcox Aquifer as an additional water supply source to the existing portfolio of water resources. Components of the feasibility study included hydrogeological assessment, water quality analysis, treatment and facilities evaluations, concentrate management, procurement options, financial analysis, and permitting plan assistance. This study determined that reverse osmosis (RO) was the most viable option for treating this groundwater to potable water standards. Concurrently, with the feasibility assessment, SAWS awarded a contract in May 2007 for the pilot testing of RO membranes from three manufacturers. The goals of the pilot test is to further define the treatment and facilities component of the feasibility assessment and to initiate the permitting process with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Raw groundwater quality, the pilot testing approach, and preliminary pilot test results for the BGD Project will be presented in the following sections.

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