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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Ecosystem Restoration

Reclamation of Acid Sulfate Soils Using Lime-Stabilized Biosolids


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 37 No. 4, p. 1447-1455
    Received: Apr 26, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): zenah@vt.edu
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  1. Zenah W. Orndorff *a,
  2. W. Lee Danielsa and
  3. Delvin S. Fanningb
  1. a Dep. of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, 0404, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg, VA 24061
    b Dep. of Environmental Science and Technology, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-5825


Excavation of sulfidic materials during construction has resulted in acid rock drainage (ARD) problems throughout Virginia. The most extensive documented uncontrolled disturbance at a single location is Stafford Regional Airport (SRAP) in Stafford, Virginia. Beginning in 1998, over 150 ha of sulfidic Coastal Plain sediments were disturbed, including steeply sloping cut surfaces and spoils placed into fills. Acid sulfate soils developed, and ARD generated on-site degraded metal and concrete structures and heavily damaged water quality with effects noted over 1 km downstream. The site was not recognized as sulfidic until 2001 when surface soil sampling revealed pH values ranging from 1.9 to 5.3 and peroxide potential acidity (PPA) values ranging from 1 to 42 Mg CaCO3 per 1000 Mg material. In February 2002 a water quality program was established in and around the site to monitor baseline pH, EC, NO3–N, NH4–N, PO4–P, Fe, Al, Mn, and SO4–S, and initial pH values as low as 2.9 were noted in on-site receiving streams. In the spring and fall of 2002, the site was treated with variable rates of lime-stabilized biosolids, straw-mulch, and acid- and salt-tolerant legumes and grasses. By October 2002, the site was fully revegetated (≥90% living cover) with the exception of a few highly acidic outcrops and seepage areas. Surface soil sampling in 2003, 2004, and 2006 revealed pH values typically > 6.0. Water quality responded quickly to treatment, although short-term NH4 + release occurred. Despite heavy loadings, no significant surface water P losses were observed.

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