Department of Environmental Engineering, Korea University, Sejong, 30019, Republic of Korea; Program in Environmental Technology and Policy, Korea University, Sejong, 30019, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: [Email]
This study assessed the feasibility of an in situ well-based denitrification bio-barrier (WDB) for managing groundwater contaminated with high-strength nitrate. To evaluate the efficacy of WDB using fumarate as a carbon source and/or electron donor, three sequential single-well push-pull tests (SWPPTs) were conducted at six test sites. The values of the isotope enrichment factor (ɛ) ranging from -6.5‰ to -22.6‰ and the detection and degradation of nitrite and nitrous oxide confirmed complete in situ denitrification of nitrate to nitrogen gas. The ratio of the first-order rate coefficient of fumarate to nitrate (k1,fum/k1,NO3) was obtained to estimate the amount and frequency of fumarate injection for the effective design of WDB. At three sites, the ratios ranged from 0.67 to 0.80, while the other two sites showed higher ratios of 2.97 and 2.20 than the theoretical values and significant amounts of sulfate reduction, theoretically equivalent to 6.5% of total fumarate consumption. Considering the theoretical mole ratio of fumarate to nitrate of 0.98, the amount and frequency of fumarate injection is site specific. During the operating WDB, the average annual nitrate mass degraded (95% CI) was 2.2 ± 1.0 kg N/yr/well. The amount of N reduced by one well of WDB is equivalent to treating 110 m3 of groundwater at 30 mg N/L to the level of 10 mg N/L for one year. WDB would be an effective remediation option for managing high nitrate flux in groundwater.