The mechanism of removal of humic acid, phosphate and kaolin particles by coagulation with alum and PACl or adsorption by their pre-formed precipitates was investigated, and it was found that the coagulation mechanisms for monomeric Al at neutral pH and polymeric Al 13 at alkaline pH were very similar. The removal of phosphate and humic acid by coagulation with alum or PACl did not change with stirring time (between 1 min and 15 min), independent of the dose and species of coagulants. However, for adsorption of these impurities by pre-formed precipitates, the results were significantly different. Both Al ³⁺ and nano-sized Al 13 could precipitate and form aggregates at pH 7 and pH 9, respectively, and their precipitates became less active (fewer binding sites on the surface of precipitate) with the increase of shear time or shear rates before adsorbing pollutants. Thus, although the total surface area increased (the average size of flocs became smaller) at higher applied shear rates or longer shear time, the removal efficiency of humic acid and phosphate decreased. Also, from the MW distributions, it was confirmed that less humic acid was removed by the adsorption on alum precipitate pre-formed with longer shear time. Chemical groups (OH 2 and OH) on the surface of precipitate determined the removal efficiency of phosphate and humic acid, and the activity of precipitate become lower as a result of higher applied shear and longer shear time. This is confirmed be due to some crystallization of the amorphous precipitate, forming inactivated hydroxyl. When kaolin was added 10 min after the alum or PACl precipitate formed, the precipitates captured kaolin particles only on their surface, whereas when alum was added to kaolin suspensions particles were trapped within the growing flocs. When alum/kaolin flocs were broken at high shear rate re-growth of flocs decreased with increasing shear time, but after a short breakage period, long aging of broken flocs had little effect on floc regrowth.