Domestic water wells are routinely subjected to in situ chemical disinfection treatments to control nuisance or pathogenic bacteria. Most treatments are chlorine based and presumably cause strongly oxidizing conditions in the wellbore. Water resource managers in Wisconsin were concerned that such treatments might facilitate release of arsenic from sulfide minerals disseminated within a confined sandstone aquifer. To test this hypothesis, a well was subjected to four disinfection treatments over 9 months time. The first treatment consisted of routine pumping of the well without chemical disinfection; three subsequent treatments included chlorine disinfection and pumping. Pretreatment arsenic concentrations in well water ranged from 7.4 to 18 ??g/L. Elevated arsenic concentrations up to 57 ??g/L in the chemical treatment solutions purged from the well are attributed to the disintegration or dissolution of biofilms or scale. Following each of the four treatments, arsenic concentrations decreased to less than 10 ??g/L during a period of pumping. Arsenic concentrations generally returned to pretreatment levels under stagnant, nonpumping conditions imposed following each treatment. Populations of iron-oxidizing, heterotrophic, and sulfate-reducing bacteria decreased following chemical treatments but were never fully eradicated from the well. Strongly oxidizing conditions were induced by the chlorine-based disinfections, but the treatments did not result in sustained increases in well water arsenic. Results suggest that disruption of biofilm and mineral deposits in the well and the water distribution system in tandem with chlorine disinfection can improve water quality in this setting. ?? 2008 The Author(s).
Additional publication details
Effect of well disinfection on arsenic in ground water