Many water treatment plants still use manual control for coagulant dosing (usually Alum or Ferric). Whilst the raw water quality is steady this is an effective method to get a coagulant dose, however when the raw water changes then manual control of the coagulant dose breaks down, particularly when plants are unmanned overnight or over the weekend.
Operators React to Rain Events
When the raw water is likely to be of proper quality in the future (e.g. a weather forecast predicts a rain event) operators often increase the coagulant dose in anticipation of a rainfall event. This can lead to poor coagulation prior to, during, and after the rainfall event (if it comes at all) and also can introduce longer term issues such as filter blinding, shorter filter run times and increased aluminum residuals (in the case of Alum).
For many plants it is possible to automate coagulant control such that a streaming current monitor can effectively increase and decrease the dose of coagulant automatically in response to changing water quality. This is particularly common in areas of low alkalinity raw water.