This paper reviews the progress that has been made during the last four years within the research facilities of PWN. This has resulted in a new pre-treatment process for the direct treatment of water containing high amounts of suspended matter, dissolved organic carbon and nitrate, such as surface waters, based on ion exchange (SIX®) and ceramic microfiltration (Ceramac®). This paper specifically reviews the results of a performance evaluation that has been made of this new pre-treatment process in comparison with conventional pre-treatment techniques, in this case enhanced coagulation followed by rapid sand filtration. Based on the outcome of this study a new treatment facility has been designed with these new processes which will be operational in 2013 with a capacity of 5000m3/h, this comparison study however is based on a maximum capacity of 4000 m 3/h. This new pre-treatment leads to a superior water quality, reduced energy consumption, less waste and a smaller carbon footprint. © IWA Publishing 2011.