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The streamer discharges are effectively used for biological and chemical cleaning of air and water. Uniform streamer discharges were obtained in water at pulsed electric loading. The volume of these discharges exceeds 400 cm3 and the energy delivered to the discharge reached 40–400 J depending on the applied voltage. The reliable and durable reactor for water treatment by pulsed streamer discharges is designed and tested. High voltage pulse amplitude applied to the reactor requires improved electric insulation to prevent flashover along the reactor surface both in water and air. High mechanical stress due to high discharge current adds the requirements to the mechanical durability of the system. A small-size reactor with the volume of approximately 1 l withstands successfully both high electrical and mechanical stresses. The reactor is designed for research purposes, however it can be upgraded to use in a high repetition-rate regime necessary for industrial applications. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.