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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Long-Term Phosphorus Immobilization by a Drinking Water Treatment Residual


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 316-323
    Received: Apr 24, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): gao@ufl.edu
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  1. Sampson Agyin-Birikoranga,
  2. George A. O'Connor *a,
  3. Lee W. Jacobsb,
  4. Konstantinos C. Makrisc and
  5. Scott R. Brintona
  1. a Soil and Water Sci. Dep., Univ. Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0510
    b Dep. Crop and Soil Sci., Mich. State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824
    c Earth and Environmental Sci. Dep., Univ. Texas, San Antonio, 6900 N. Loop, San Antonio, TX 78249-0663


Excessive soluble P in runoff is a common cause of eutrophication in fresh waters. Evidence indicates that drinking water treatment residuals (WTRs) can reduce soluble P concentrations in P-impacted soils in the short term (days to weeks). The long-term (years) stability of WTR-immobilized P has been inferred, but validating field data are scarce. This research was undertaken at two Michigan field sites with a history of heavy manure applications to study the longevity of alum-based WTR (Al-WTR) effects on P solubility over time (7.5 yr). At both sites, amendment with Al-WTR reduced water-soluble P (WSP) concentration by ≥60% as compared to the control plots, and the Al-WTR-immobilized P (WTR-P) remained stable 7.5 yr after Al-WTR application. Rainfall simulation techniques were utilized to investigate P losses in runoff and leachate from surface soils of the field sites at 7.5 yr after Al-WTR application. At both sites, amendment with Al-WTR reduced dissolved P and bioavailable P (BAP) by >50% as compared to the control plots, showing that WTR-immobilized P remained nonlabile even 7.5 yr after Al-WTR amendment. Thus, WTR-immobilized P would not be expected to dissolve into runoff and leachate to contaminate surface waters or groundwater. Even if WTR-P is lost via erosion to surface waters, the bioavailability of the immobilized P should be minimal and should have negligible effects on water quality. However, if the WTR particles are destroyed by extreme conditions, P loss to water could pose a eutrophication risk.

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