A media filter is a type of filter that uses a bed of sand, peat, shredded tires, foam, crushed glass, geo-textile fabric, anthracite, crushed granite or other material to filter water for drinking, swimming pools, aquaculture, irrigation, stormwater management, oil & gas operations, and other applications.

Filter design

One design brings the water in the top of a container through a “header” which distributes the water evenly. The filter “media” start with fine sand on the top and then graduatingly coarser sand in a number of layers followed by gravel on the bottom, in gradually larger sizes. The top sand physically removes particles from the water. The job of the subsequent layers is to support the finer layer above and provide efficient drainage.

As particles become trapped in the media, the differential pressure across the bed increases. Periodically, a backwash may be initiated to remove the solids trapped in the bed. During backwash, flow is directed in the opposite direction as normal flow. In multi-media filters, the layers in the media re-stratify due to density differences prior to resuming normal filtration.

Drinking water filtration systems

Municipal drinking water systems often use a rapid sand filter and/or a slow sand filter for purification.

Media filtration for stormwater

Media filter system for urban runoff

Media filters are used to protect water quality in streams, rivers, and lakes. They can be effective at removing pollutants in stormwater such as suspended solids and phosphorus. Sand is the most common filter material.[1][2] In other filters, sometimes called “organic filters,” wood chips or leaf mold may be used.[3]

Media filtration for sewage and wastewater

Media filters are also used for cleaning the effluent from septic tanks and primary settlement tanks. The materials commonly used are sand, peat and natural stone fibre.

Media filtration for the oil & gas industry

The oil & gas industry uses media filters for various purposes in both upstream and downstream operations. Nut shell filters are commonly used as a tertiary oil removal step for produced water treatment. Sand filters are often used to remove fine solids following biological treatment and clarification of refinery wastewater. Multi-media filters are used for removing suspended solids from both produced water and refinery wastewater. The materials commonly used in multi-media filters are gravel, sand, garnet, and anthracite.


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