Canal wall brushing - A control measure for taste and odour problems in drinking water supplies in arid environments

Qiang Hu, Milton Sommerfeld, Larry Baker, Paul Westerhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Canal wall brushing, accomplished by a tractor-mounted custom-designed rotating metal brush, was an effective means of removing nuisance periphytic cyanobacterial growth and consequently reducing MIB and geosmin production in the Arizona Canal, a major water conveying open channel in the metropolitan Phoenix (Arizona) water supply system. On average, c. 80% of the periphyton biomass was removed from the canal walls, resulting in immediate reduction in MIB and geosmin concentrations. Recolonization of periphytic cyanobacteria and other microalgae on the canal walls occurred following brushing, and algal biomass (chlorophyll a concentration) reached pre-brushing levels within 2 weeks. However, the production of MIB and geosmin was significantly reduced in the brushed section of the canal during this period of time. The extended duration of the effectiveness of brushing therefore did not appear to be due to the reduced total periphytic biomass, but rather the influence on species composition and population density of MIB and geosmin producers. Thus, slow recovery of MIB- and geosmin-producing cyanobacterial populations probably accounts for the reduced MIB and geosmin production. The brushing technique may be particularly applicable to open concrete-lined canal water supply systems and fish culture impoundments that contain point sources of periphyton- associated MIB and geosmin production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-554
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Water Supply: Research and Technology - AQUA
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • 2-methylisoborneol (MIB)
  • Canal wall brushing
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Drinking water
  • Geosmin
  • Surface water supply


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