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J Contam Hydrol. 2003 Oct;66(1-2):79-91.

Accumulation of nitrite in denitrifying barriers when phosphate is limiting.

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Crops Research Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture-ARS, 1701 Center Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA.


Permeable in situ denitrifying barriers can remove nitrate from groundwater. Barriers may be constructed by filling an excavated area with a porous mixture of sand, fine gravel, and substrate or by the injection of a nonaqueous phase substrate into an aquifer. The substrate stimulates the development of a denitrifying microbial community by providing an electron donor. The objective of this study was to determine the ability of denitrifying barriers to function under low-phosphate conditions. Sand columns injected with a soybean oil emulsion were used as laboratory models of denitrifying barriers. When a natural groundwater containing 17 mg l(-1) nitrate-N and 0.009 mg l(-1) phosphate-P was pumped through the columns, only a small amount of nitrate was removed from the water and, in some effluent fractions, 52% to 88% of the influent nitrate had converted to nitrite. Nitrite also accumulated when the phosphate concentration of the groundwater was increased to 0.040 or 0.080 mg l(-1) phosphate-P. Only when a 0.160 mg l(-1) phosphate-P supplement was added to the groundwater was there a loss of nitrate without a large accumulation of nitrite. The addition of solid calcium phosphate or rock phosphate to the sand columns was found to provide adequate phosphate for denitrification in short-term studies. These studies point out the need to ensure that adequate phosphate is present in denitrifying barriers especially when such barriers are used beneath phosphate-binding soils.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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