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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION EFFECTS ASSESSMENT FOR THE ST. JOSEPH RIVER WATERSHED

Location: National Soil Erosion Research Lab

Title: The development of alum rates to enhance the remediation of phosphorus in fluvial systems following manure spills

Authors
item Armstrong, Shalamar
item SMITH, DOUGLAS
item Owens, P -
item Joern, B -
item HUANG, CHI HUA

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Monitoring
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 14, 2011
Publication Date: March 15, 2012
Citation: Armstrong, S.D., Smith, D.R., Owens, P.R., Joern, B.C., Huang, C. 2012. The development of alum rates to enhance the remediation of phosphorus in fluvial systems following manure spills. Journal of Environmental Monitoring. 14:292-298.

Interpretive Summary: After a manure spill has reach surface waters (drainage ditches and streams), the most common method of remediation is to contain the contaminated area using earthen dams, remove the water from the stream using pumping equipment, and to redistribute the recovered waste into an alternative storage system or to land apply the waste in compliance with state regulations. Recent studies have examined the fate of phosphorus (P) during a manure spill and the effectiveness of the current manure spill clean-up method. These studies found that the current remediation of manure spills that reach surface water focuses primary on the contaminated water, while nutrient rich sediments remain in the stream. These sediments have been found to further contaminate the water column for up to 2 months after the spill. This study presents a supplemental clean-up method using aluminum sulfate (alum) as a sediment treatment to prevent the release of P from contaminated sediments to the water following a manure spill. We determined that treating sediments with the highest rates of alum/alum + CaCO3, resulted in a 98-100% reduction in P released to the water following a 24 hour manure spill simulation. Sediments that contained the greatest clay content and extractable Fe and Al content required a greater alum treatment rates to reduce P release. Results from this study have demonstrated that sediment treatment has the potential to reduce P availability to aquatic plants such as algae and downstream transport of soluble P to lakes and reservoirs to prevent contributions to eutrophic conditions.

Technical Abstract: Following the remediation of animal manure spills that reach surface waters, contaminated streambed sediments are often left in place and become a source for internal P loading within the stream in subsequent flow. The objective of this study was to develop treatment rates and combinations of alum and CaCO3 to mitigate phosphorus (P) from contaminated sediments of different particle size distributions following a manure spill. Sediment specific alum and CaCO3 treatment rates were developed based upon the resultant alum treatment ranges established for each sediment type. Clay loam sediments required 54% more alum to mitigate P desorption relative to sediments that contain at least 60% sand. Amending sediments with the highest rates of alum/alum + CaCO3, resulted in a 98-100% reduction in P desorption and a similar water column pH for all sediments types. Observations from this study demonstrated the effectiveness of alum/alum + CaCO3 to increase P retention in sediments following a manure spill.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014