Toxicity of Drinking Water Associated with Alternative Distribution System Rehabilitation Strategies

EPA Grant Number: R834867
Title: Toxicity of Drinking Water Associated with Alternative Distribution System Rehabilitation Strategies
Investigators: MariƱas, Benito J. , Plewa, Michael J.
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Project Period: June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2015
Project Amount: $599,113
RFA: Advancing Public Health Protection through Water Infrastructure Sustainability (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Drinking Water , Water


This project will investigate the potential impact on public health brought about by emerging alternatives for rehabilitating drinking water distribution systems. The central hypothesis is that there will be differences in the toxicity of tap water associated with different rehabilitation approaches. Specific objectives are to perform: (a) comparative studies of mammalian cell cyto/genotoxicity for simulated distribution system waters representative of conventional rehabilitation with centralized and decentralized treatment, and emerging dual and multiple networks (hypothesis: changes in hydraulic residence time, disinfectant addition and sequential treatment associated with different rehabilitation strategies will affect water cyto/genotoxicity); (b) comparative analysis of the roles of residual disinfectants, free and combined chlorine, and relevant water quality for distribution system rehabilitation alternatives (hypothesis: switching residual disinfection practice from free to combined chlorine will increase tap water cyto/genotoxicity, more so in source waters affected by water reuse).


Four distribution system rehabilitation scenarios will be tested including conventional centralized and decentralized treatment approaches and emerging dual and multiple networks, the latter with distributed optimized treatment. Each scenario will use two source waters representative of pristine natural water and water influenced by municipal wastewater effluent, plus four additional source waters resulting from adding bromide and iodide ions to these baseline waters. Treatment approaches will include enhanced coagulation followed by one of three primary disinfection processes (free chlorine, ozone, polychromatic UV), and then residual disinfection (free and combined chlorine). The case of distributed optimized treatment will be assessed by using a simulated polychromatic UV Point-of-Use system after disinfectant residual exposure. The cyto/genotoxicity of waters resulting from the various rehabilitation scenarios will be assessed in vitro using mammalian cells.

Expected Results:

This project will provide the first comparison of tap water cyto/genotoxicity derived from realistic source waters for various distribution system configuration/disinfection practice. It is anticipated that the project will lead to the development and implementation of strategies for drinking water infrastructure rehabilitation resulting in the generation of safe drinking water.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 15 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 4 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Sustainability, rehabilitation strategies, public health protection, safe drinking water,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • Final Report