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The Orange County Water District Riverbed Filtration Pilot Project: Solids and Organic Carbon Removal Using Induced Riverbed Infiltration

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  • In an effort to reduce suspended solids and organic carbon loading and to increase long-term groundwater recharge rates at Orange County Water District’s spreading basins, a pilot project was conducted to evaluate riverbed filtration as a technology to treat river water prior to groundwater recharge. A shallow under-channel lateral drain system was constructed within a channel adjacent to the Santa Ana River to induce and capture infiltration. Water pumped from the drain system was analyzed for a variety of water quality parameters and then recharged into test spreading basins to evaluate recharge rates compared to Santa Ana River water without treatment. Riverbed filtered water and untreated water was also tested in percolation columns. At the pilot project drain system, phreatic surface and temperature were continuously monitored at thirteen points. River water inflow and outflow and drain system pumping rates were also monitored. The pilot test was divided into two periods: Period 1 had shallow overflow (1- to 3-inches) within the river channel; Period 2 achieved deeper surface water depths (3- to 12-inches). Lateral drain system pumping during both test periods were incrementally increased to establish the maximum pumping capacity of the drain system for each test period. Monitoring data indicate that riverbed filtration effectively removed essentially all suspended solids and reduced organic carbon contents with the bulk of water captured by the under-channel drain system from induced infiltration. The phreatic surface and subsurface water movement within the drain system area was shown to be very sensitive to changes in surface water flow rates and depth, and drain system pumping rates. In addition, surface clogging was observed. The pilot project results indicate that riverbed filtration is a viable technology for treating surface water prior to recharge operations, however, additional testing and optimization is needed.
  • Presented at The Oregon Water Conference, May 24-25, 2011, Corvallis, OR.
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