Understanding Water Chemistry for Practical Application

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Course Overview

Learn how to apply the principles of water chemistry on the job through a problem-solving approach.

Topics include:

  • Acids, bases, and carbon dioxide
  • pH, alkalinity, hardness
  • Chemistry in rivers, lakes, and groundwater
  • Treatment of drinking water and wastewater
  • Solubility and precipitation
  • Corrosion and oxidation/reduction
  • Phosphorus, nutrients, mercury, copper, lead, and manganese
  • Emerging contaminants, pharmaceuticals, and endocrine disruptors
  • Organic chemicals and pesticides

Who Should Attend?

  • Water and wastewater professionals
  • Consulting engineers
  • Plant managers and operators
  • Industrial water users
  • Federal agencies and military bases
  • Public health professionals

Course Outline

Principles of Water Chemistry

  • Key terms, properties of water and solutions
  • What’s in the water? – a problem solving approach

Understanding Acids, Bases & CO2

  • pH, equilibrium, ionization fractions
  • Strong and weak acids, effects of CO2

 Oxidation and Reduction Principles and Applications

  • Oxidizing agents: oxygen, ozone, permanganate, dichromate
  • Oxidation of chlorine, carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, metals

Solubility Principles and Applications

  • Solubility of solids, liquids, gases
  • Solubility product constants

Groundwater Chemistry

  • Hydrogeologic settings
  • Organic and inorganic contaminants

Surface Water Chemistry

  • DO, BOD, suspended solids, phosphorus, nitrogen
  • Metals, organics, pesticides, endocrine disruptors

Current Issues in Drinking Water Treatment and Distribution

  • Lead, copper, manganese, radionuclides
  • Waterborne pathogens
  • Corrosion, disinfection byproducts

Chemical and Physical Processes in Drinking Water Treatment and Disinfection

  • Coagulation
  • Membrane filtration
  • Chlorination and chloramination
  • Ozonation, UV irradiation

Water Chemistry in Practice

  • Water chemistry in nature
  • Ammonia, nitrification, hardness, and alkalinity
  • Chemistry in wastewater treatment


  • “An excellent course. I really enjoyed the variety of presentation styles and topics.”
  • “This is one of the best courses I’ve ever had.”
  • “Great demonstrations.  Made chemistry interesting!”
  • “If I’d had these guys when I had to take undergrad chemistry, it wouldn’t have been so scary!”


Kenneth Bradbury

Kenneth Bradbury PhD is program leader for water and environmental programs at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, University of Wisconsin–Extension. His areas of interest include wellhead protection, effects of unsewered subdivisions on groundwater, hydrogeology of fractured rocks, and assessing the movement of chemical and microbial contaminants through aquitards. Dr. Bradbury is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and is advisor to the editor-in-chief of the journal Groundwater. He earned his Bachelors degree in Geology at Ohio Wesleyan University and earned his PhD degree in Hydrogeology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Chris Catlin

Chris Catlin, PE, is an operations consultant with Jacobs. He previously served as superintendent of plant operations for the Minneapolis Water Works, managing a 180-MGD lime-softening/membrane plant. His experience includes groundwater, surface water, conventional treatment, membrane treatment, radium removal, and ammonia/nitrification. He is a certified water plant operator in Iowa and Minnesota.

Gregory Harrington

Greg Harrington, PhD, is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research interests include waterborne pathogens, natural organic matter, and physical/chemical processes such as ozonation, chloramination, coagulation, and ultraviolet irradiation.  In addition to his teaching and research, he is the Pieper Family Foundation Chair for Servant Leadership and has served as president of the Water Utility Board for the Madison Water Utility.

Ned Paschke

Ned Paschke, PE, DEE, is a program director and professor of practice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, specializing in analysis and improvement of water and wastewater systems and facilities. Before joining the UW-Madison, he was director of engineering for the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District and a hydraulic engineering consultant for national and international engineering firms.

Kenneth Walz

Kenneth Walz PhD is an adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a chemistry and engineering instructor at Madison Area Technical College. He is project director for the Consortium for Education in Renewable Energy Technology (CERET). Dr. Walz is an experienced teacher and researcher with interests in renewable energy, alternative fuels, and water science. He recently received the Carnegie Foundation’s Award as Wisconsin Professor of the Year.

Upcoming dates (0)

Take this course when it’s offered next!

Program Director

Ned Paschke


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