Organic matter in water consists of various compounds containing hydrocarbons and elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus. These are the remains of living organisms and their metabolic processes, including plants, algae, bacteria, insects and other microorganisms. Organic matter can be natural, such as the remains of leaves and plant material, or anthropogenic induced, such as industrial waste and sewage.

The presence of organic matter in water can have various consequences, including:

  1. Water turbidity: Large particles of organic matter can cause water turbidity, reducing the transparency and aesthetic value of water.
  1. Biological oxygen consumption (BPD): Organic matter in water serves as food for bacteria and other microorganisms. Their decomposition uses oxygen present in the water, which can result in a decrease in the concentration of oxygen in the water. Reduced oxygen can lead to the death of aquatic organisms and ecosystem disruptions.
  1. Production of toxic compounds: The breakdown of organic matter can result in the formation of toxic compounds, including ammonia, nitrates and phosphate.
  1. Increase in chemical consumption: The presence of organic matter may require larger amounts of disinfectants and other chemicals to ensure the safety of drinking water.

In order to control the presence of organic matter in water, various purification techniques are used:

  1. Flocculation and coagulation: The addition of coagulants such as aluminum sulfate and ferrous chloride promotes the agglomeration of organic matter particles, facilitating their removal from water.
  1. Biological treatments: The use of bacteria and microorganisms to decompose organic matter in biological reactors.
  1. Activated carbon: Activated carbon adsorbs organic substances from water, helping to reduce odor and taste and eliminate harmful compounds.
  1. Oxidation: The use of oxidation processes such as ozonation and advanced oxidation processes helps to decompose and remove organic matter.
  1. Water purification systems: Advanced filtration systems such as microfiltration and ultrafiltration remove organic matter particles from water.

Preventing the excessive presence of organic matter in water is key to maintaining water quality, protecting the environment and ensuring water safety for various purposes.

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The most common technologies to prevent the presence of organic matter in water include:

  1. Wastewater collection and treatment systems: Wastewater from households, industry and agriculture passes through wastewater treatment plants to remove organic matter and other impurities before being discharged into the environment.
  1. Biological treatments: Biological purifications use microorganisms such as bacteria and algae to break down organic matter in water. Aerobic biological treatments use oxygen to break down organic matter, while anaerobic treatments work without the presence of oxygen.
  1. Coagulation and flocculation: These techniques involve the addition of coagulants to form phloxes or agglomerates of organic matter particles. This facilitates their removal via deposition or filtration.
  1. Activated carbon: Activated carbon has a high adsorption capacity for organic matter. Adding activated carbon to the purification process can remove organic matter from water.
  1. Oxidation processes: Oxidation uses chemicals or physical processes such as ozoning or advanced oxidation processes to break down organic matter in water.
  1. Removal of microorganisms: Disinfection systems such as chlorination, UV disinfection or ozone disinfection can also contribute to reducing the presence of microorganisms that contribute to organic matter.
  1. Microfiltration and ultrafiltration: These filtration techniques use fine membranes to remove particles and microorganisms, including organic matter, from the water.
  1. Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP): AOP uses a combination of oxidation processes to break down and remove organic compounds and microorganisms from water.
  1. Improved waste management: In industrial plants, the application of better waste management practices can reduce the uptake of organic matter into water systems.

Each technology has its advantages and limitations, and the most effective strategy often involves a combination of different techniques to achieve optimal efficiency in preventing the presence of organic matter in water.

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