Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011FL267B

Coupled Biological/Chemical Systems for Maximizing Phosphorus Removal from Natural Waters

Institute: Florida
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2013-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $32,143 Total Non-Federal Funds: $64,286

Principal Investigators: Treavor Boyer, Mark Brown

Abstract: Phosphorus (P) remains a primary pollutant in natural waterways. Phosphorus in agricultural and residential fertilizers, cattle feed, and reclaimed water, eventually finds its way into streams, rivers, and lakes. Excessive P loads can cause eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic conditions in these surface waters or significantly alter the ecosystems nutrient balance. Accordingly, the main objective of this research is to develop an innovative combination of chemical and biological treatments for P removal from surface waters. The research will focus on understanding the P processes and dynamics within algae scrubbers and developing treatment technologies that will enhance their P uptake. Three areas of potential enhancement are being explored: (1) using advanced oxidation processes to transform organic-P to more biologically labile compounds; (2) understanding calcium-P co-precipitation and natural organic matter interactions within algae scrubbers; (3) testing different operating conditions and potential chemical amendments to maximize algae scrubber P uptake. Preliminary data using advanced oxidation processes on Everglades water showed conversion (20-100%) of both dissolved organic phosphorus and particulate phosphorus to more biologically available, soluble reactive phosphorus. These results show promise for one aspect of this research project aimed at increasing P uptake from algae scrubbers. These scrubbers can then be used for nutrient reduction in surface waters by helping treat both point and non-point sources of P.