Changes in feedwater organic matter concentrations based on intake type and pretreatment processes at SWRO facilities, Red Sea, Saudi Arabia

Abdullah Dehwah, Sheng Li, Samir Almashharawi, Harvey Winters, Thomas M. Missimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Transparent exopolymer particles (TEP), natural organic matter, and bacterial concentrations in feedwater are important factors that can lead to membrane biofouling in seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) systems. Two methods for controlling these concentrations in the feedwater prior to pretreatment have been suggested; use of subsurface intake systems or placement of the intake at a greater depth in the sea. These proposed solutions were tested at two SWRO facilities located along the Red Sea of Saudi Arabia. A shallow well intake system was very effective in reducing the algae and bacterial concentrations and somewhat effective in reducing TEP concentrations. An intake placed at a depth of 9. m below the surface was found to have limited impact on improving water quality compared to a surface intake. The algae and bacteria concentration in the feedwater (deep) was lower compared to the surface seawater, but the overall TEP concentration was higher. Bacteria and TEP measurements made in the pretreatment process train in the plant and after the cartridge filters suggest that regrowth of bacteria is occurring within the cartridge filters.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: Funding for this research was provided by the Water Desalination and Water Reuse Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. The authors thank the ownership and staff at the Moya Bushnak Company for access to the two SWRO facilities and engineers Mr. Ashraf Kawari and Mr. Mohamed Arfin for allowing facility access and giving water sampling assistance. Thanks are also extended to Mr. Khaled Bin Bandar, who gave field support and Mr. Najmuddin Malek, the manager of site A, who granted us access to the facility.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Materials Science
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Mechanical Engineering


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