Dissolved organic matter in inland waters and its impacts on drinking water quality

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Evolutionsbiologiskt centrum Friessalen
  • Lecturer: Dolly Kothawala
  • Organiser: The Department of Ecology and Genetics
  • Contact person: Dolly Kothawala
  • Docentföreläsning

The Department of Ecology and Genetics invites everyone to a docent lecture in biology with specialization limnology


Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is a complex mixture of compounds that are the partial degradation products of decomposing plant, animal, bacterial and fungal life. DOM contributes to the tea-stained colour typically observed in Swedish lakes and occupies a central role in the ecological functioning of freshwater ecosystems. On its own, DOM found in drinking water is not harmful to human health, however it can lead to the production of carcinogenic byproducts during the final treatment step, when drinking water is chlorinated. DOM can contribute to poor taste and odour, and if untreated DOM can support the re-growth of bacteria within the distribution system. Thus, DOM poses several concerns to the drinking water industry. In addition, there is a level of uncertainty regarding how future climate scenarios will further impact drinking water quality. In Sweden, background levels of DOM in surface waters are especially high due to the abundance of organic rich soils in the surrounding catchment. Long-term trends have shown increasing fluxes of organic carbon into aquatic systems due to shifts in hydrological conditions and recovery from historically higher levels of acid deposition. This talk will explore i) the challenges faced by drinking water utilities, ii) how DOM removal efficiency is highly variable depending on the molecular composition and source of DOM, and iii) strategies being developed by drinking water treatment plants to optimize removal efficiency.

The lecture is an examination to be admitted as a docent and should be at the knowledge level of undergraduate students but could also be of interest to a wider audience. The lecture is 45 minutes and is followed by time for questions and discussion. The lecture will be given in English.

Chair: Professor Peter Eklöv

The representative of the docent committee: Professor Monika Schmitz