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Water turbidity, a pivotal parameter in assessing water quality, plays a direct role in determining the clarity and overall quality of water. The processes by which plants achieve water that adheres to standards have long captured our interest.

A thorough comprehension of every facet of water turbidity, coupled with targeted treatment measures following measurement, stands as a critical stride toward ensuring community health through access to safe water.

Understanding Turbidity

Understanding Turbidity: What is it and why does it matter?

Turbidity stands as a crucial parameter in assessing water quality, offering insights into the quantity and size of suspended particulate matter within the water. This, in turn, significantly impacts the transparency and clarity of the water.

Multiple factors directly contribute to the increased turbidity of water, highlighting the intricate interplay of elements influencing water quality.

What is the turbidity of water?

Turbidity is an indicator of the amount and size of suspended particulate matter in water that makes it opaque. Clarity and transparency are usually assessed by measuring the scattering of light in water. Turbid water affects the appearance and may jeopardize water quality.

Turbidity management is a critical control factor in water treatment and disinfection, especially for drinking water suppliers. Turbid water can also affect the disinfection efficiency of UV systems, which is why regulators have set turbidity limits.

The European Water Quality Directive, the World Health Organization and the Drinking Water Inspectorate set standards for the supply of safe water, typically requiring a turbidity level of <1 NTU, with the latest amendments proposing to reduce the NTU to 0.3% to ensure that water treatment facilities operate effectively.

What is the turbidity of waters

Unravelling the Causes of High Water Turbidity

Suspension and Dissolution of Particulate Matter
Particulate matter, encompassing algae, sand, silt, clay, precipitated iron, bacteria, and more, either dissolves or remains suspended in water. This leads to the scattering of light, imparting a turbid appearance to the water.

Surface Erosion and Human Activities
Natural processes, like streambank erosion, and human activities such as agricultural nutrient runoff and wastewater treatment facilities, contribute to the release of sediments. This influx of sediments elevates turbidity in water bodies while fostering the growth of algae.

Stormwater-Induced Sediment Inflow
Intense rainfall triggers the washout of soil and organic matter into rivers. This alters water color and content, with the accelerated water flow stirring up particulate matter from the riverbed.

Pollution During Groundwater Withdrawal
The extraction of water from an aquifer via boreholes can introduce surface materials like chalk, sand, and gravel into the water, particularly in the case of newly established or renovated boreholes.

Infrastructure Construction and Pipeline Movements
Infrastructure projects or pipeline movements conducted by water companies can agitate sediments. This action may discolor the water and introduce sediments into the water supply system, particularly during the repositioning of existing pipelines.

drinking water qulity

The Impact of Turbidity on Drinking Water Quality

Beyond its visual impact, turbidity significantly influences health risks and waterborne diseases. The following exploration unravels the interconnected complexities, shedding light on the critical role turbidity plays in safeguarding the quality of our drinking water.

Health Risks and Waterborne Diseases

Turbidity in drinking water poses significant health risks by providing shelter and nutrients for pathogens, leading to waterborne disease outbreaks. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as headaches, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are common outcomes.

The removal of turbidity is closely linked to protozoa removal and correlates with health risks. Pathogens, including bacteria and protozoa, attach to suspended particles in water. Failure to remove sediment can impact aquatic animals and humans, heightening the risk of disease transmission.

Pollutant Attachment and Microbial Survival

Contaminants such as pesticides, metals, and toxic organic compounds may attach to suspended particles in drinking water. This reduces microbial contact with disinfectants, increasing the likelihood of microbial survival and disease transmission.

Environmental Impacts and Ecosystem Damage

Suspended particles in water bodies diminish light penetration, affecting ecological productivity, habitat quality, and recreational values. Elevated particles contribute to faster lake filling, increased siltation in streams, and damage to fish and wildlife habitat.

Potential Threats to Human Health

Turbidity not only jeopardizes the safety of drinking water but may also signal the presence of bacteria, viruses, or parasites in turbid water, adversely affecting consumer health. High levels of organic matter can lead to the survival of microorganisms and bacteria, damage to disinfection systems, and the formation of carcinogenic by-products.

Impaired Balance of Aquatic Ecosystems

Increased suspended solids in turbid waters limit visibility and alter the feeding behavior of organisms. This impedes the natural movement and migration of aquatic populations. Fish in highly turbid waters become susceptible to parasites and diseases, impacting their ability to survive and resist.

Water turbidity filter challenges

Water turbidity filter challenges

Filtration is a common method of reducing water turbidity by effectively removing suspended particulate matter, microorganisms, organics and other contaminants from water to provide water suitable for drinking and other uses. Many challenges arise when filtering cloudy water. Some key points to remember are:

Navigating Challenges in System Sizing

When dealing with system sizing, generic filters may present challenges, being either too large or too small—especially in space-constrained locations. The solution lies in specialized enclosed units, offering a compact yet reliable alternative.

Criticality of Flow Rate

Achieving the correct flow rate is paramount for efficient particle removal. Excessive flow rates can lead to filter overloading, premature clogging, increased replacement costs, and compromised water quality. Mitigate these issues by employing optimal flow rates or implementing a two-step filtration approach.

Clarity in Filter Ratings

Understanding filter micron ratings is crucial. Absolute filtration ratings block 99.9% of particles equal to or larger than a micron, while nominal ratings, expressed as a percentage, typically block around 85%. Ensuring the filter is capable of capturing all necessary particles is essential for effective filtration.

Optimizing Density Design

The longevity of a filter is enhanced through density design. Filters with graded density increase dirt-holding capacity and efficiency, emphasizing the importance of thoughtful design for prolonged filter life and improved performance.

Optimizing Density Design

Methods for Treating Turbidity in Drinking Water

Depth Filter

Use depth filters to remove particulate matter from water including algae, sand, silt, clay, precipitated iron, etc. The ACC Lenticular Filter and The DIA Lenticular Filter can hold a large amount of dirt and have a very low-pressure loss for cleaning.

Membrane Filter Cartridge

Use a hydrophilic membrane pleated cartridges filter to remove undesirable odors, tastes, colors and reduce turbidity. This is the conventional solution for turbidity applications. After three to six months, the cartridge filters may need to be replaced.

Filter cartridges are made of PES membrane, polypropylene membrane and glassfiber, etc.

The application range and filtration accuracy of each membrane material varies, and it is usually recommended to use 0.45 or 0.65μm pore size cartridges to complete the final filtration, and before that, you can use the absolute PP pleated cartridge filter of 1~10μm as a pre-filtering step to protect the subsequent filters and prolong the service life.


Water turbidity, influenced by factors such as organic matter, sediment, algae, and microorganisms, serves as a pivotal indicator for evaluating water clarity.

Elevated turbidity levels can pose aesthetic and health concerns. Prioritizing public health, monitoring, and treating turbidity in drinking water become essential measures to mitigate the risk of gastrointestinal and other waterborne diseases.

In essence, maintaining control over drinking water turbidity is imperative for upholding water health and safety.

Sanitek provides a diverse range of filters and filtration elements designed to effectively reduce water turbidity.

For any inquiries regarding water quality, feel free to contact us for professional filtration solutions. Through investments in turbidity water treatment, we contribute to the creation of healthier communities.

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