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Humic substance analysis and algorithm driven integration for optimal dosing of chemicals in water treatment plants: advancing the sustainable development goals

Grant number: 23/10220-0
Support Opportunities:Research Grants - Research in Public Policies
Duration: February 01, 2024 - January 31, 2028
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Analytical Chemistry
Principal Investigator:Ernani Pinto Junior
Grantee:Ernani Pinto Junior
Host Institution: Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (CENA). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Associated researchers: Alexander Ossanes de Souza ; Elaine Contiero Ribeiro ; Erick Leite Bastos ; Thiago Carita Correra


The quality of the captured water to supply the Drinking Water Treatment (DWT) is compromised by the presence of humic substances and phytoplankton, which alter its organoleptic parameters. To overcome this drawback, DWTs mostly use chlorinated oxidants to remove these compounds, however, toxic and carcinogenic compounds may form, such as trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), compromising the quality of the potable water. Therefore, it is necessary to control humic substances and chlorophyll, however, there is a problem to be solved, which is correlated with the very long time between sample collection and obtaining the final result, generating an idle time between a response and an action. As a result, there is an increase in the cost of treatment for DWT, since there is a delay in controlling the dosage of the reagents. Faced with the above problem, this research project aims to help the Municipal Water and Sewage Service (SEMAE), in the city of Piracicaba-SP, to improve the quality of public supply water, based on rapid response analysis methods, developing a joint project of public policies in execution, solving one of the problems faced by DWTs, through a quick science focused on the quality of incoming water, that is, raw water from springs. For this, analysis methods with faster responses and an electronic device will be developed, which will be placed at the raw water inlet, generating results in real time. These conscious and punctual actions will enable a more efficient and accessible water treatment, decrease in input costs, which will directly reflect on the cost reduction for the final consumer. The project aims to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) number 6 on safe water and sanitation by the UN. From the results generated, and the methods developed, it will be possible to understand the profile of the raw water captured by SEMAE, a crucial factor for dosing the inputs used, since different factors, such as, for example, drought and disposal of untreated effluent, can affect the concentration of chemical and biological compounds. In this way, managers will be able to choose the best actions in the DWT in real time, regulating and improving water quality. In addition, USP will be closer to DWT, allowing for greater dialogue and discussion of strategies that will benefit the community. Finally, the results obtained and the satisfaction of the project will be disclosed in different means of communication, academic and social, aiming to reach the largest possible audience, demonstrating the importance of science in the development of the country. For this purpose, SEMAE's WTP, created in 1969, was chosen. In a few months after its creation, the city of Piracicaba already had numerous sewage and water supply projects. SEMAE is an autarchy with economic, financial and administrative autonomy. In 1989, a Water Master Plan was created, aiming to implement guidelines and basic projects for the development of the water system. The DWT has three collection stations, with the city's supply system being computerized, informing the amount of chlorine or water in each reservoir online, in addition to managing the reservoirs quickly and efficiently. SEMAE seeks alternative solutions capable of improving the quality of life of the Piracicaban people, investing in research and projects that anticipate solutions for future issues. Due to SEMAE's history in water treatment and its concern with water distribution, this project will be developed at this DWT, with the possibility of expansion to other DWTs in São Paulo and the metropolitan region. (AU)

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