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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Bioremediation and Biodegradation

Evaluation of a Denitrification Wall to Reduce Surface Water Nitrogen Loads


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 41 No. 3, p. 724-731
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: Sept 13, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): cschmidt@ufl.edu
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  1. Casey A. Schmidt * and
  2. Mark W. Clark
  1. Dep. of Soil and Water Science, Univ. of Florida, 106 Newell Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611. Assigned to Associate Editor Christopher Green


Denitrification walls have significantly reduced nitrogen concentrations in groundwater for at least 15 yr. This has spurred interest in developing methods to efficiently increase capture volume to reduce N loads in larger watersheds. The objective of this study was to maximize treatment volume by locating a wall where a large groundwatershed was funneled toward seepage slope headwaters. Nitrogen concentration and load were measured before and after wall installation in paired treatment and control streams. Beginning 2 d after installation, nitrogen concentration in the treatment stream declined from 6.7 ± 1.2 to 3.9 ± 0.78 mg L−1 and total N loading rate declined by 65% (391 kg yr−1) with no corresponding decline in the control watershed. This wall, which only comprised 10 to 11% of the edge of field area that contributed to the treatment watershed, treated approximately 60% of the stream discharge, which confirmed the targeted approach. The total load reduction measured in the stream 155 m downstream from the wall (340 kg yr−1) was higher than that found in another study that measured load reductions in groundwater wells immediately around the wall (228 kg yr−1). This indicated the possibility of an extended impact on denitrification from carbon exported beyond the wall. This extended impact was inauspiciously confirmed when oxygen levels at the stream headwaters temporarily declined for 50 d. This research indicates that targeting walls adjacent to streams can effectively reduce N loading in receiving waters, although with a potentially short-term impact on water quality.

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