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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 6, p. 1998-2004
    Received: Mar 7, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): christopher.amrhein@ucr.edu
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Reducing Sediment and Phosphorus in Tributary Waters with Alum and Polyacrylamide

  1. L. B. Masona,
  2. C. Amrhein *a,
  3. C. C. Goodsona,
  4. M. R. Matsumotob and
  5. M. A. Andersona
  1. a Department of Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521
    b Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521


The Salton Sea is the largest inland water body in California, covering an area of 980 km2 Inflow to the Salton Sea (1.6 km3 yr−1) is predominately nutrient-rich agricultural wastewater, which has led to eutrophication. Because internal phosphorus release from the bottom sediments is comparatively low and external phosphorus loading to the Salton Sea is high, reduction of tributary phosphorus is expected to reduce algal blooms, increase dissolved oxygen, and reduce odors. Removing both dissolved phosphorus and phosphorus-laden sediment from agricultural drainage water (ADW) should decrease eutrophication. Both alum and polyacrylamide (PAM) are commonly used in wastewater treatment to remove phosphorus and sediment and were tested for use in tributary waters. Laboratory jar tests determined PAM effectiveness (2 mg L−1) for turbidity reduction as cationic > anionic = nonionic. Although cationic PAM was the most effective at reducing turbidity at higher speeds, there was no observed difference between the neutral and anionic PAMs at velocity gradients of 18 to 45 s−1 Alum (4 mg L−1 Al) reduced turbidity in low energy systems (velocity gradients < 10 s−1) by 95% and was necessary to reduce soluble phosphorus, which comprises 47 to 100% of the total P concentration in the tributaries. When PAM was added with alum, the anionic PAM became ineffective in aiding flocculation. The nonionic PAM (2 mg L−1) + alum (4 mg L−1 Al) is recommended to reduce suspended solids in higher energy systems and reduce soluble P by 93%.

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