Biological Water Treatment

Biological Water Treatment Systems

A breakthrough in the science of water treatment

In an increasingly ecologically-conscious world, there are growing concerns around the use of chemicals to treat drinking water. Biological water treatment systems offer an effective alternative as they use naturally occurring bacteria, rather than chemicals, to remove contaminants from water. Not only does biological water treatment reduce the addition of unnatural compounds, it also minimizes the environmental impact by reducing the byproducts such as treatment residuals and contaminated concentrate streams.

Biological filtration, when combined with reverse osmosis (RO), is a process known as Integrated Biological Reverse Osmosis Membrane (IBROM). Invented in 2002 by renowned water treatment expert Dr. Hans Peterson and commercialized by Sapphire Water, the SIBROM water treatment process can effectively treat the brackish water that is common throughout Canada and plaguing many First Nations communities.



3D rendering of a SIBROM biological water treatment system.

Image of a bioreactor

Sapphire Water not only installs new, custom designed SIBROM systems, but we also retrofit existing greensand and reverse osmosis systems that may not be performing as expected. Many factors must be considered when designing an IBROM water treatment system, and without the right expertise, many of these systems are not as effective as they need to be.

Sapphire Water’s team of SIBROM experts have a track record of providing high performing, functional systems to communities across Canada. Based on your raw water quality analysis, our team can quickly determine the SIBROM system requirements to satisfy your unique needs. Check out our recent projects  and contact us today to see if a SIBROM system is right for you.



The SIBROM water treatment system first uses biological filtration, and then treats the water a second time with RO membranes. The biological portion of the system utilizes an expanded clay media which provides a large surface area to attract naturally occurring bacteria. The bacteria clings to the media and naturally oxidizes contaminants such as hydrogen sulfide, iron, arsenic, ammonium, and dissolved organic material. After the biological filters, the water flows into an RO membrane system where contaminants that were not removed by the biological filters are then eliminated. Finally, the SIBROM and RO treated water is run through a calcium and magnesium mineral bed, stabilizing pH and making the water non-corrosive




Extremely effective for treating harsh, brackish water typical of Canadian groundwater, the SIBROM process easily removes iron, manganese, arsenic, ammonium, phosphorus, natural organic matter, color, chloroform, perchlorate, nitrate, nitrite, bromate, selenite, chromate, arsenate, dissolved organic carbon, dissolved solids, and a variety of other contaminants from raw water. While other drinking water treatment technologies isolate contaminants and then remove them, the SIBROM process destroys contaminants entirely and removes multiple contaminants at the same time.



Biological Filtration in a SIBROM water treatment system.

Historically, manganese greensand pre-treatment ahead of RO membranes has been heavily relied upon to treat brackish water. While this treatment method has been moderately effective, the more advanced SIBROM systems offer numerous advantages when compared with conventional manganese greensand / reverse osmosis systems:

  1. Biological filtration as a pre-treatment uses no chemicals
  2. Biological filtration produces biologically stable water, which contains no energy sources to support downstream microbial growth, preventing the fouling of RO membranes, reservoirs, and distribution pipes
  3. After using biological filtration as a pre-treatment, the RO membranes require significantly less antiscalent and up to 90% less chlorine
  4. Intervals between filter backwashes are several times longer than a conventional system
  5. Minimal operator intervention is required to operate a SIBROM due to the reduced requirement for backwashing and chemical handling
  6. SIBROM RO membranes do not need to be cleaned as often as RO membranes in conventional systems
  7. SIBROMs require less downtime, and continuous operation for up to 30 days is possible
  8. Less expensive and longer-lasting filtration material (Filtralite® Expanded Clay) is used in a SIBROM with a lifespan reaching up to 20 years
  9. The longevity of RO membranes is increased in a SIBROM