Chlorination of Water Supplies


    AT the recent annual meeting of the British Waterworks Association, Prof. P. S. Lelean dealt with the history and present state of the methods of chlorina-tion of water supplies. The process was used in 1897 after an enteric outbreak at Maidstone, and its application on a large scale began in 1900 at Ostend; but the modern process, in which much smaller amounts of chlorine are used, was first put into operation in connexion with the London supplies on the initiative of the late Sir Alexander Houston. The method was extensively used during the War, when perfectly safe drinking water was procured in large amounts from canals and other sources of highly polluted water. In modern practice, bleaching powder has been replaced by chlorine from liquid chlorine. One part of chlorine in ten millions can reduce Bacillus coli from 1,000 to 2 per c.c. in ten minutes. The chloramines formed by the action of chlorine on ammoniated water, however, are much more effective than chlorine alone. In the case of Thames water, an addition of 0-1 parts per million of ammonia, filtration, and addition of 0-25 parts per million of chlorine resulted in the absence of B. coli from 98 per cent of the samples of 100 c.c. Growth from spores is also considerably retarded. The process causes neither taste nor odour. Prof. Lelean dealt with many aspects of water chlorination in detail, and his lecture emphasised the very great service rendered to public health by the use of scientific methods by the authorities responsible for water supplies: in London, 280million gallons per day are treated.

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    Chlorination of Water Supplies. Nature 134, 56 (1934).

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