This study discusses a mathematical modeling and design protocol for bioactive granular activated carbon (GAC) adsorbers employed for purification of drinking water contaminated by chlorinated pesticides, exemplified by alachlor. A thin biofilm model is discussed that incorporates the following phenomenological aspects: film transfer from the bulk fluid to the adsorbent particles, diffusion through the biofilm immobilized on adsorbent surface, adsorption of the contaminant into the adsorbent particle. The modeling approach involved independent laboratory-scale experiments to determine the model input parameters. These experiments included adsorption isotherm studies, adsorption rate studies, and biokinetic studies. Bioactive expanded-bed adsorber experiments were conducted to obtain realistic experimental data for determining the ability of the model for predicting adsorber dynamics under different operating conditions. The model equations were solved using a computationally efficient hybrid numerical technique combining orthogonal collocation and finite difference methods. The model provided accurate predictions of adsorber dynamics for bioactive and non-bioactive scenarios. Sensitivity analyses demonstrated the significance of various model parameters, and focussed on enhancement in certain key parameters to improve the overall process efficiency. Scale-up simulation studies for bioactive and non-bioactive adsorbers provided comparisons between their performances, and illustrated the advantages of bioregeneration for enhancing their effective service life spans. Isolation of microbial species revealed that fungal strains were more efficient than bacterial strains in metabolizing alachlor. Microbial degradation pathways for alachlor were proposed and confirmed by the detection of biotransformation metabolites and byproducts using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.