Introduction to Water Treatment [3170]

Learn about urban water services, focusing on basic drinking water and wastewater treatment technologies


This course will detail urban water services, focusing on basic drinking water and wastewater treatment technologies. Unit processes involved in the two treatment chains will be described as well as the physical, chemical and biological processes involved. There will be an emphasis on water quality and the functionality of each unit process within the treatment chain.  After the course one should be able to recognise the process units, describe their function and make simple design calculations on water treatment  plants (drinking and waste water).  Overall the course will teach the role of treatment technologies in providing adequate water supply and effective sanitation which are essential for human society and the safeguarding of public and environmental health.

There is a global trend towards urbanisation with over 50% of humanity currently residing in urban areas. Water is invariably linked to urban functionality, as industrial, domestic and agricultural use. Essential services such as drinking water supply, sanitation and wastewater treatment to protect surface water and groundwater resources need to be present in such environment. The provision of these essential urban water services present real challenges in many parts of the world today.

Accessible fresh water resources suitable for drinking water and other ecosystem services is approximated to be 200,000 km3, approximately 0.3% of the total freshwater resources and less than 0.01% of the total water on earth. These accessible freshwater resources are not equally distributed and many countries today are experiencing water scarcity which in turn affects community health and in many places water scarcity is the inhibiting factor for economic growth. This highlights the importance of conserving and protecting the accessible freshwater resources, through the implementation of adequate treatment technologies combined with a robust infrastructure. Through utilising relevant treatment technologies to upgrade water to a quality suitable for subsequent use or discharge with more and more stringent effluent demands, the urban water chain has the possibility to transform to an urban water cycle and improve interactions within the greater hydrological cycle.

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Jules van Lier Portrait
Jules van Lier

Jules van Lier is a full professor of Environmental Engineering and Wastewater Treatment at the Sanitary Engineering Section of Delft University of Technology. Jules van Lier completed his BSc in Biology, spec. Microbiology at Nijmegen University, The Netherlands (1985) and his MSc in Environmental Technology at Wageningen University, The Netherlands (1988). He performed his PhD on Thermophilic Anaerobic Wastewater Treatment under the supervision of Prof. Gatze Lettinga (1995), also at Wageningen University. Throughout his career he has been involved as a senior researcher / project manager in various (inter)national research projects, working on cost-effective water treatment for resource recovery (water, nutrients, biogas, elements). His research projects are focused on closing water cycles in industries and sewage water recovery for irrigated agriculture. The further development of anaerobic treatment technology is his prime focus. In addition to university work he is an Executive Board Member and Scientific Advisor to the LeAF Foundation; regional representative for Western Europe Anaerobic Digestion Specialist group of the International Water Association (IWA); editor of scientific journals (e.g Water Science Technology and Advances in Environmental Research and Development); member of the Paques Technological Advisory Commission; and member of the Advisory Board of World-Waternet, Amsterdam.

Luuk Rietveld Portrait
Luuk Rietveld

Luuk Rietveld is professor of Urban Water Cycle Technology at the Sanitary Engineering Section of Delft University of Technology. After finalising his studies Civil Engineering at Delft University of Technology in 1987, he worked until 1987 as Assistant and later as Associate expert for the Dutch Directorate General for International Co-operation in Mozambique. In that period he was employed as lecturer/researcher Sanitary Engineering at the Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique. In the period 1991 until 1994 he worked at the Management Centre for International Co-operation, Delft University of Technology. From 1994 he has been working at the Department of Water Management, section Sanitary Engineering of Delft University of Technology. In 2005 Luuk Rietveld defended his PhD thesis entitled “Improving Operation of Drinking Water Treatment through Modelling”.

Merle de Kreuk Portrait
Merle de Kreuk

Merle de Kreuk is a wastewater Assistant Professor at the Sanitary Engineering department of the Delft University of Technology. Her research focus is on (municipal and industrial) wastewater treatment systems and anaerobic processes, aiming to link the world of Biotechnology to the Civil Engineering, as well as fundamental research to industrial applications. Her main research topics are hydrolysis processes in anaerobic treatment and granule formation and deterioration. Merle’s PhD and Post-Doc research involved the development of aerobic granular sludge technology and up scaling the technology from a three litre lab scale reactor to the full scale Nereda® process®. The first application of aerobic granular sludge technology in the Netherlands was opened in May 2012, and currently many more installations are being built, due to its compactness, low energy use and good effluent characteristics. Her previous work experience also involved the position of water treatment technology innovator at Water authority Hollandse Delta on projects such as the Energy Factory in which 14 water authorities cooperated to develop an energy producing sewage treatment plant

Doris van Halem Portrait
Doris van Halem

Doris van Halem is a tenure track Assistant Professor within the Department of Water Management, section Sanitary Engineering of Delft University of Technology. She graduated from Delft University of Technology in Civil Engineering and Geosciences with a cum laude MSc degree (2007). During her studies she developed an interest in global drinking water challenges, illustrated by her internships in Sri Lanka and Benin, resulting in an MSc thesis “Ceramic silver impregnated pot filter for household drinking water treatment in developing countries”. In 2011 she completed her PhD research (with honours) on subsurface iron and arsenic removal for drinking water supply in Bangladesh under the guidance of prof. J.C. van Dijk (TU Delft) and prof. dr. G.L. Amy (Unesco-IHE). Currently she supervises BSc, MSc and PhD students, focusing on inorganic constituent behaviour and trace compound removal during soil passage and drinking water treatment - with a particular interest in smart, pro-poor drinking water solutions.

Peter de Moel Portrait
Peter de Moel

Peter de Moel has been working in the drinking water sector since 1979. Within Kiwa Water Research (1979-1980), he published on water chemistry, on coagulation, and on dewatering of drinking water sludge. Within DHV (1980-2000), he designed over 100 water treatment plants and water supply facilities, for all drinking water companies in the Netherlands and for organizations in over 20 countries, worldwide. His patents (membrane filtration) are applied in full scale installations. In 2000 he joined as partner within Omnisys doing ICT consultancy projects, mainly in the health insurance sector. Since 2001 he assists TU Delft on the production of educational material and using ICT in education. He is the principal author of the text book Drinking water – Principles and Practices, published in Dutch and in English. In 2007 he was the project manager of the TU Delft OpenCourseWare pilot project. In 2011 he started the development of the course "Aquatic Chemistry for Engineers", as an OpenCourseWare and LifeLongLearning project next to being the coordinator online education activities at the department of Watermanagement.

Anke Grefte Portrait
Anke Grefte

Anke Grefte is developing online education for the MSc-track Watermanagement, Civil Engineering and Geosciences Faculty at Delft University of Technology. She graduated from Delft University of Technology in Civil Engineering and Geosciences with a master’s thesis entitled "Behaviour of particles in a drinking water distribution network; test rig results". For this thesis Anke was awarded the Gijs Oskam award for best young researcher. In January 2006, she started her Ph.D. research on the removal of Natural Organic Matter (NOM) by ion exchange and the effect on subsequent treatment processes. Currently she is finishing her Ph. D. research and as a teacher she is developing online education.

Katie Anderson Portrait
Katie Anderson

Katie Anderson is MSc student at the sanitary engineering section and teaching assistant within this course.


What is the grading policy for this course?

Your final grade will be determined by the average of your mark achieved in the two exams scheduled in week 5 and week 10 of the course (50% for the intermediate drinking water exam and 50% for the intermediate wastewater treatment exam). The exact logistics as well as the cutoff for receiving a certificate of accomplishment will be announced in the first week.

What is the estimated effort for course?

About 10-12 hrs/week.

How much does it cost to take the course?

Nothing! The course is free.

Will the text of the lectures be available?

Yes. All of our lectures will have transcripts synced to the videos.

Do I need to watch the lectures live?

No. You can watch the lectures at your leisure.

Will certificates be awarded?

Yes. Online learners who achieve a passing grade in a course can earn a certificate of mastery. These certificates will indicate you have successfully completed the course, but will not include a specific grade. Certificates will be issued by edX under the name of DelftX, designating the institution from which the course originated.

Can I contact the Instructor or Teaching Assistants?

Yes, but not directly. The discussion forums are the appropriate venue for questions about the course. The instructors will monitor the discussion forums and try to respond to the most important questions; in many cases response from other students and peers will be adequate and faster.

Is this course related to a campus course of Delft University of Technology?

Yes. This course corresponds to the campus course CTB3365 – Introduction water treatment, a BSc course of the Faculty Civil Engineering and Geosciences.

Do I need a textbook for this class?

The book (chapters) and/ or lecture notes are included.


None. The course is intended to be an introduction to water treatment technologies for everyone interested in sanitary engineering.


This course is licensed under a Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC-SA

Course code:
Classes start:
16 Sept 2013
Estimated effort:
10-12 hours/week (10 weeks)

None. The course is intended to be an introduction to water treatment technologies for everyone interested in sanitary engineering.

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The banner image of this course is provided by Evides Waterbedrijf. Evides Waterbedrijf is a water company that supplies reliable and tasty drinking water to 2.5 million clients in the Netherlands.

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