Natural Organic Matter

Nepean Lake, NSW

Natural organic matter (NOM) present in water sources can originate from decaying plants, soil and peat and microbial activity. Climate change is driving more frequent NOM "events", where higher than normal NOM concentrations occur, challenging downstream water treatment processes. In particular, if the process in place cannot cope with the NOM influent to the plant, then there may be problematic taste and odour (T&O), potential harmful disinfection by-product (DBP) formation and bacterial regrowth in the distribution system.

The AOM Lab is concerned with developing and applying advanced characterisation to determine NOM properties and use these to lend insight into the selection and optimisation of appropriate treatment and monitoring protocols. The AOM Lab has access to state-of-the-art facilities to analyse NOM both in our own laboratory and in the UNSW Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre, including LC-OCD, fluorescence spectroscopy, FTIR and NMR. The AOM Lab has experience in analysing NOM in both freshwater catchments and in marine water and in water treatment plants associated with these. We have particular expertise in analysing NOM associated with algal blooms. Furthermore, we have developed in situ monitoring methods to provide early warning of NOM events.

 Image: Nepean river catchment (NSW) (Photo credit: Sina Moradi)


To see our current project(s) on NOM, click here


To see our past project(s) on NOM, click here


For PhD opportunities in on NOM topics, see here


Key Personnel


Key Publications

Shutova, Y., Baker, A., Bridgeman, J., Henderson, R.K., 2014. Spectroscopic characterisation of dissolved organic matter changes in drinking water treatment: From PARAFAC analysis to online monitoring wavelengths. Water Res. 54, 159–169. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2014.01.053

Hartland, A., Baker, A., Timms, W., Shutova, Y., Yu, D., 2012. Measuring dissolved organic carbon δ13C in freshwaters using total organic carbon cavity ring-down spectroscopy (TOC-CRDS). Environ. Chem. Lett. 10, 309–315. doi:10.1007/s10311-012-0377-z

Shutova Y., Baker A., Bridgeman J., Henderson R. 2013. Linking NOM character to treatability with fluorescence: an Australian case study. Ozwater’13 conference, Perth, Australia

Shutova Y; Henderson RK; Baker A; Bridgeman J, 2012, 'The potential for monitoring organic matter during drinking water treatment processes using fluorescence spectroscopy', in OZWater 2012, Australian Water Association, presented at Ozwater 12, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, 8 - 10 May 2012