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Water Treatment Principles and Design

James M. Montgomery Consulting Engineers Inc., John Wiley and Sons, 1985, 696pp, 125, ISBN 0-471-04384-2

Upon entering the field of water treatment, it quickly became clear to me that there is a lack of published information on how to design a successful water treatment plant. I came to rely on three main sources of information when designing a piece of plant for the first time. These are the standard handbooks (Perry, Metcalf and Eddy, Degremont etc.), company in-house design manuals, and primary literature sources. However, due to the nature of the design process, what is often needed is something more specific than a handbook, more flexible than a design manual (usually written so that anyone can carry out the procedure), but less time-consuming than a primary literature search.

Assuming my experiences to be reasonably representative, one would expect my fellow water engineers to join me in welcoming any new book that attempts to offer practical guidance in the design of treatment plant. As the publisher’s blurb for the book indicates, this is “the first major reference on the science of water treatment for several decades”. It certainly seems major by size at 700 A4 pages, the better part of half a million words.

As far as the science is concerned, it seems at first glance exhaustively comprehensive, starting from the structure and properties of the water molecule, working its way through physical, chemical, and microbiological quality determinands to a discussion of water quality standards. It covers the principles of process engineering in 35 pages, and then has a series of chapters (more like monographs) on some areas of special interest in water treatment, such as filtration. These sections give the theoretical background. There follows a discussion of predesign considerations, then six chapters on plant siting, design, special hydraulic design, process control, operation and maintenance, and estimating. As I wasn’t going to attempt to read this monster from cover to cover, I gave it a once over for the common problems of American textbooks- use of units and lack of acknowledgement of a world outside the US border. I attempted to look up a few practical design considerations. I also tried to follow one of the book’s design procedures, a stripper for removing VOCs from water. The book was laid out in the familiar US college textbook style, and seemed to be using mainly metric units, albeit not SI.

No attempt is made to cover any non-American design standards or regulations. It therefore compares poorly with other American texts such as Perry and Metcalf and Eddy with respect to its internationality. It contained a huge amount of data about water and its contaminants, and many new approaches to understanding them. For example, whilst most people working in water treatment are familiar with the Langelier Index, as a measure of the tendency for deposition or corrosivity of water, this book gives a couple of other indices. Interestingly, it also shows a lack of correlation between Langelier Index and corrosion rates, in contradiction to the commonly held belief. I had less success with more practical items.

Whilst the coverage of granular media filter headloss build-up was good, I had no luck with finding the equations describing relationships between pH, alkalinity and temperature needed to design the dosing plant for addition of inorganic coagulants.

The attempt to follow a design procedure was even less successful. The omission of units, use of a mixture of metric and imperial units, and lack of labelling of terms made it impossible to follow the procedure. The procedure was confusingly written, and glossed over important design considerations. I may have chosen an unrepresentative example.

I can see for example that in some areas, such as granular media filtration, its coverage progresses to a fine level of detail. No design procedure is however given. The use of mixed units is still evident in the charts that might be used for design.

In summary, I do not believe that this is of great use as a practical manual in design of plant. Its coverage of the underlying science seems very strong, but it frequently becomes progressively weaker as it moves towards details of design