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Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 49, Issue 3–4, pp 251–272 | Cite as

The effect of nitrate and organic matter upon mobility of selenium in groundwater and in a water treatment process

  • Oleh Weres
  • Harry R. Bowman
  • Aaron Goldstein
  • Emily C. Smith
  • Leon Tsao
  • Warren Harnden
Article

Abstract

Kesterson Reservoir in Merced County, California was formerly used as a storage and evaporation facility for Se-contaminated agricultural drain water. Very little Se entered the shallow aquifer below the ponds with percolating pond water. With few localized exceptions, most of the Se was removed from the water and retained in the first decimeter of soil, which was rich in decaying organic matter. Where it was present in groundwater, Se was nearly always associated with nitrate. Nitrate induces mildly oxidizing conditions (Eh ≈ 350 mV) and inhibits microbial fixation of Se. In the absence of nitrate, relatively reducing conditions prevail in the groundwater (Eh ≈ -50 mV), and Se is quickly removed. Selenate follows oxygen and nitrate in the order that soil microbes utilize electron acceptors. The process of Se removal from water by soil was reproduced in the laboratory, and the effect of nitrate was confirmed. This natural process might be applied to water treatment for Se removal. The deep water ecosystem at Kesterson Reservoir was highly productive. Vegetation growing in water treatment ponds should supply enough organic matter to maintain anaerobic conditions in the sediment. This process, including algae culture, was operated in an outdoor 79 cm column for 100 days. At percolation rates of 15 and 30 m yr−1 Se removal averaged 94%, with an additional 2% converted to volatile compounds.

Keywords

Selenium Water Treatment Percolate Percolation Rate Pond Water 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oleh Weres
    • 1
  • Harry R. Bowman
    • 1
  • Aaron Goldstein
    • 1
  • Emily C. Smith
    • 1
  • Leon Tsao
    • 1
  • Warren Harnden
    • 2
  1. 1.Earth Sciences DivisionLawrence Berkeley LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Engineering and Technical Services DivisionLawrence Berkeley LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA

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