Industry best practice manual for water quality management and sterilisation on-farm

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Organic matter treatment

Performance goal: Treatment minimises organic matter in the water on meat chicken farms.
Description: Organic matter in drinking water increases disinfectant demand and microbial growth which can adversely affect bird health.

It can also impact water treatment processes by increasing the required chemical doses, reducing the effectiveness of filtration and adsorption processes, and fouling membrane systems.

A range of analytical techniques offer more information on organic matter concentrations. Colour and turbidity were selected as indicators of organic matter in water as they are simple, fast and have cost-effective tests.
Performance criteria: Organic matter levels in water are controlled.

Best practice level: turbidity <1.0 NTU and colour (true) 0–15 HU

Maximum acceptable level: turbidity 0–5 NTU and >15 HU based on laboratory or on-farm testing
Minimum requirements
All water is filtered before disinfection to remove organic matter:
  • Water should be filtered down to 10-micron equivalent pore size.
  • Water with high levels of iron and manganese is filtered after disinfection: To oxidize iron requires pH >7 and a minimum of 20 minutes reaction time, while manganese requires pH >8 and at least 20 minutes reaction time.

  • Turbidity and colour monitoring system is installed after disinfection.
    Best practice options
    Use multiple filters in series, with reducing pore size. For example, use a series of polypropylene (PP) filters which could include 50 micron, 25 micron, 10 micron and 1 micron filters.
    Use biological filtering after primary filtering, e.g. a biologically activated carbon filter.
    Activated carbon filtering.

    Refer to Table 12 (below) for a comparison of the effectiveness of different pre-treatment options.
    Automated TDS, turbidity and colour monitoring system installed on inlet source water before treatment, directly after disinfection and at the inlet of each shed.
    Replacement disinfectant chemicals, filters and other associated consumable products on standby.
    Backup power and duplicate facilities to treat water.

    Other information

    Table 12. Effectiveness of pre-treatments against organic matter

    Effectiveness against organic matter contaminationSedimentParticulate organic matterDissolved organic matter
    PP filterHLML
    Ceramic filterHLML
    Pleated filterHLML
    Rapid sand filtersHLML
    Semi-rapid sand filtersHLML
    Slow sand filtersHLMLM
    Centrifugal filtrationHLML
    Powdered activated carbon (PAC)LMH
    Ground activated carbon (GAC)LMMH
    Biologically activated carbon (BAC)LMMH
    Ion-exchange resins
    Chemical coagulatesLMHMH
    Lime softeningLLL
    Chemical oxidationLHH
    Reverse osmosisHHH
    Electrodialysis reversalLMM
    Capacitive deionisationLLL
    Membrane capacitive deionisationLLL
    Electronic water conditioning
    L: low, LM: low to moderate, M: moderate, MH: moderate to high, H: high, –: N/A
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