Land Application of Municipal Treated Wastewater to Reduce Nitrate Levels

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Professor Niroj Aryal, Biological Engineering


Niroj Aryal, Biological Engineering

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-2021


Nitrogen is an essential element, however, nitrogen in the water resources is harmful. Populated cities of NC release the municipal treated wastewater, which has significant nitrate, nitrogen, and ammonium, to the environment. Land application of the treated wastewater is a popular way to manage the water. When this is done, the nitrates from the water enter into the Earth and to the groundwater system, affecting the environment and eventually reentering our municipal water system. This research investigates how the frequency and duration of land application of municipal treated wastewater affects nitrate leaching into groundwater, and seeks the optimal frequency and duration to reduce nitrate leaching while being able to apply a significant quantity of wastewater to North Carolina Soil. / Soil samples will be collected from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s farm. Synthetic wastewater will be created using nitrate salts. Twelve columns will be filled with the same amount of soil and then applied with the same amount of wastewater. Wastewater will be applied at the top of the columns, and the leachate will be collected at the bottom of the columns. The wastewater and the leachate water will be collected once a week from all of the columns for testing of nitrogen species. Oxidation reduction potential will also be tested to understand the kind of reactions occurring in the columns. Sensors will be used to measure soil moisture, oxidation-reduction potential and the temperature of the columns. The results will assist in determining the rate and frequency of wastewater application for reducing nitrate pollution of groundwater at land application sites.

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