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Water turbidity

What is water turbidity?

Water turbidity is the technical term for the measure of the clarity of water. More specifically, it is a measure of the relative cloudiness of water. Turbidity is generally measured in nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) by quantifying the amount of light scattered and absorbed by particles in the water.

Why measure water turbidity?

Generally, turbidity is an indicator of the effectiveness of drinking water treatment processes, particularly filtration. Turbidity is largely dependent on source water quality and treatment technology selection and operation. 

Measurement fluctuations can be indicative of changes in source water quality, inadequate water treatment or disturbances in the distribution system.

In short, turbidity levels are an important consideration for the effective design and operation of water treatment processes. 

Health considerations

Turbidity is an important indicator of the effectiveness of drinking water treatment processes. Particularly during filtration, turbidity indicates the presence of microbial pathogens in drinking water. Reducing turbidity to as low as possible and minimizing fluctuations are great ways to provide high quality drinking water that is safe to consume. 

UV treatments

It is key to achieve low levels of turbidity prior to where UV treatment is applied.

What causes turbidity?

The causes of water turbidity are varied and complex and are influenced by the physical, chemical, and microbiological characteristics of the water. The main natural cause of turbidity is the weathering of rocks and soils. Human activities, such as wastewater releases, are also a significant contributor. Turbidity can also be caused by surface water infiltrating wet wells—a phenomenon called groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI).

Water clarity can be affected by inorganic particles and naturally occurring organic particles, such as suspended solids (SS), iron, manganese, and organic carbons.

Canadian guidelines

To ensure effectiveness of disinfection and proper operation of the distribution system, it is recommended that water entering the distribution system have turbidity levels of 1.0 NTU or less. For systems that use groundwater, turbidity levels should generally be below 1.0 NTU. Filtration systems should be designed and operated to reduce turbidity levels to as low as reasonably achievable and strive to achieve a treated water turbidity target of less than 0.1 NTU for each individual filter.

Note that, while federal guidelines exist, provinces have their own guidelines as well.

How do you treat turbidity?

As water turbidity is caused by different factors, treating it is a complex process. The cause of the turbidity must be identified before a solution can be proposed and tested. Magnor can help you interpret available water analysis reports. 

How can Magnor help?

Magnor specializes in manufacturing drinking water and process water treatment equipment for municipal and industrial applications. We provide turnkey solutions designed to measure and control water turbidity. Whether you’re looking to treat your municipality’s drinking water or your industrial process water, we can customize our different technologies to meet your flow rate needs.