Occurrence and fate of bulk organic matter and pharmaceutically active compounds in managed aquifer recharge: A review

Sungkyu Maeng, Saroj K. Sharma, Karin Lekkerkerker-Teunissen, Gary L. Amy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) is a natural water treatment process that induces surface water to flow in response to a hydraulic gradient through soil/sediment and into a vertical or horizontal well. It is a relatively cost-effective, robust and sustainable technology. Detailed characteristics of bulk organic matter and the occurrence and fate of pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) during MAR processes such as bank filtration (BF) and artificial recharge (AR) were reviewed. Understanding the fate of bulk organic matter during BF and AR is an essential step in determining pre- and/or post-treatment requirements. Analysis of organic matter characteristics using a suite of analytical tools suggests that there is a preferential removal of non-humic substances during MAR. Different classes of PhACs were found to behave differently during BF and AR. Antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), beta blockers, and steroid hormones generally exhibited good removal efficiencies, especially for compounds having hydrophobic-neutral characteristics. However, anticonvulsants showed a persistent behavior during soil passage. There were also some redox-dependent PhACs. For example, X-ray contrast agents measured, as adsorbable organic iodine (AOI), and sulfamethoxazole (an antibiotic) degraded more favorably under anoxic conditions compared to oxic conditions. Phenazone-type pharmaceuticals (NSAIDs) exhibited better removal under oxic conditions. The redox transition from oxic to anoxic conditions during soil passage can enhance the removal of PhACs that are sensitive to redox conditions. In general, BF and AR can be included in a multi-barrier treatment system for the removal of PhACs. © 2011.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3015-3033
Number of pages19
JournalWater Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2011

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by EU SWITCH Project No. 018530-2 under the Sixth Framework Programme. The authors thank Veolia Water and the Berlin Water Company (BWB) for their support on data collected from their sites. We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Gesche Grutzmacher from Kompetenzzentrum Wasser Berlin.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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