Document Type


Publication Date

January 1982


An extensive review of the literature was conducted and results were evaluated for the use of the reverse osmosis process in the treatment of drinking water supplies. All aspects of reverse osmosis technology, including pretreatment requirements; membrane type and configuration; membrane cleaning and maintenance; and reverse osmosis removal of organics, inorganics, and microbial contaminants were incorporated inot the literature evaluation. A survey (Appendix E) of existing full scale reverse osmosis installations was also carried out and results of the survey are discussed. In light of data presented in the literature and results of the survey conducted, the following recommendations were made to prevent catastrophic membrane fouling occurrences and costly plant shutdowns in the future. 1) Conduct a comprehensive raw water quality evaluation. 2) Maintain continuous feed and product water quality monitoring. 3) Incororate process automation and system upset warning provisions in future installations. 4) Provide greatly improved training for reverse osmosis installation operators. The reverse osmosis system is particularly well suited for the treatment of water supplies which contain a number of contaminants that would otherwise require a combination of treatment processes for their removal, due to the ability of the reverse osmosis process to remove salts, organics, and a number of microbial contaminants. Effective pretreatment and routine backwashing, membrane cleaning, and disinfection must be carried out; however, if adequate system operation is to be assured.