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Understanding Nitrate Pollution in Small and Native American Communities


Utah State University; Logan UT.
August 2002

Report #53 - Abstract -

Well water was sampled in a New Mexico Indian community and in an Arizona Indian community. Only one well in the Arizona community had nitrate nitrogen concentrations in excess of the Federal drinking water standards. Water from this well contained 487 mg/L NO3--N/L and was used to evaluate a bench-scale UV denitrification system to verify that the system could remove NO3-. The process did reduce nitrate concentrations, but it did not reduce them below the nitrate maximum contaminant level of 10 mg/L NO3--N/L. There was also a nitrate residual in the treated water.

Nitrate was removed from laboratory tap water (TDS~280 mg/L) more efficiently than from the Arizona community's well water (TDS~1,900 mg/L). High TDS concentrations may have interfered with nitrate removal by the process. In tap water, nitrate removal followed first order kinetics with respect to nitrate concentration. The UV denitrification process requires further research to optimize conditions and design. The process has an advantage in that it produces no by-products that require disposal.


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