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Water Res. 2002 Feb;36(4):891-8.

Investigation of assimilable organic carbon (AOC) and bacterial regrowth in drinking water distribution system.

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Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.


This paper investigated the variation of assimilable organic carbon (AOC) concentrations in water from several typical water treatment plants and distribution systems in a northern city of China. It is concluded from this study that: (1) The AOC in most of the product water of the studied water treatment plants and the water from the associated distribution systems could not meet the biostability criteria of 50-100 microg/L. (2) Only 4% of the measured AOC concentrations were less than 100 microg/L. However, about half of the measured AOC values were less than 200 microg/L. (3) Better source water quality resulted in lower AOC concentrations. (4) The variation of AOC concentrations in distribution systems was affected by chlorine oxidation and bacterial activity: the former resulted in an increase of AOC value while the latter led to a reduction in AOC. (5) The variation of AOC concentration followed different patterns in different distribution systems or different seasons due to their respective operational characteristics. (6) Less than 30% of AOC could be removed by a conventional treatment process, whereas 30-60% with a maximum of 50-60% could be removed by granular activated carbon (GAC). (7) The observation via scanning electron microscope (SEM) on distribution pipe tubercle samples demonstrated that the pipe inner wall was not smooth and bacteria multiplied in the crevice as well as in the interior wall of distribution pipes.

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