One-Step Reverse Osmosis Based on Riverbank Filtration for Future Drinking Water Purification

Yujia Zhai, Gang Liu*, Walter G.J. van der Meer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of newly emerging pollutants in the aquatic environment poses great challenges for drinking water treatment plants. Due to their low concentrations and unknown characteristics, emerging pollutants cannot be efficiently removed by conventional water treatment processes, making technically, economically, and environmentally friendly water purification technologies increasingly important. This article introduces a one-step reverse osmosis (OSRO) concept consisting of riverbank filtration (RBF) and reverse osmosis (RO) for drinking water treatment. The OSRO concept combines the relatively low-cost natural pretreatment of river water with an advanced engineered purification system. RBF provides a continuous natural source of water with stable water quality and a robust barrier for contaminants. With the pre-removal of particles, organic matter, organic micro-pollutants (OMPs), and microbes, RBF becomes an ideal source for a purification system based on RO membranes, in comparison with the direct intake of surface water. OSRO treatment removes almost 99.9% of the particles, pathogens, viruses, and OMPs, as well as the vast majority of nutrients, and thus meets the requirements for the chlorine-free delivery of drinking water with high biostability. The OSRO treatment is cost effective compared with the standard conventional series of purification steps involving sprinkling filters, softening, and activated carbon. Artificial bank filtration (ABF), which functions as an artificial recharge in combination with a sand filtration system, is proposed as an alternative for RBF in the OSRO concept to supply drinking water from locally available resources. It is also suggested that the OSRO concept be implemented with wind power as an alternative energy source in order to be more sustainable and renewable. An OSRO-based decentralized water system is proposed for water reclaiming and reuse. It is suggested that future water treatment focus on the combination of natural and engineered systems to provide drinking water through technically efficient, financially feasible, resource reusable, and environmentally relevant means.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-34
Number of pages8
Early online date21 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Artificial bank filtration
  • Drinking water treatment
  • Reverse osmosis
  • River bank filtration
  • Water reclamation and reuse


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