Potential For Denitrification near Reclaimed Water Application Sites in Orange County, Florida, 2009

Open-File Report 2012-1123
Prepared in cooperation with the Orange County Utilities Department
By: , and 



The potential for denitrification was tested in water samples from four Upper Floridan aquifer wells near a reclaimed water application site, in west Orange County Florida, and two adjacent springs. Results of the study indicate that denitrifying bacteria are present in the groundwater and spring water samples, and that these bacteria can readily denitrify the waters when suitable geochemical conditions exist. The acetylene block technique was used to assess nitrous oxide in the samples that was produced by denitrification. The laboratory incubation experiment consisted of four different treatments to each of the six samples: (1) ambient water (no added nitrate or glucose), (2) ambient water amended with 1.4 milligrams per liter (mg/L) nitrate as nitrogen (N), (3) ambient water amended with 5.0 mg/L nitrate as N, and (4) ambient water amended with 5.0 mg/L nitrate as N and 10 mg/L glucose as C6H12O6. A companion set of incubations using treatment 2 tracked changes in nitrate and nitrite concentration with time. The rate of denitrification in treatment 2 ranged from 0.059 to 0.124 milligram per liter per day nitrogen [(mg/L)/d N] and in treatment 3 ranged from 0.071 to 0.226 (mg/L)/d N. At all of the sampling sites, treatment 4 yielded denitrification rates at least an order of magnitude greater than those measured for the other treatments; rates ranged from 2.3 to 4.4 (mg/L)/d N. The electron donor supply, dissolved organic carbon, in the groundwater and springwater is sufficient to remove at least 1.1-1.4 mg/L nitrate as N in 20 to 30 days, as indicated by nitrous oxide production rates under ambient conditions (treatment 1). The even higher nitrate removal observed with addition of supplemental carbon in treatment 4 suggests that carbon is a limiting nutrient in this reaction. Denitrifying activity might explain the low ambient nitrate concentrations in the Upper Floridan aquifer in this area.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Potential For Denitrification near Reclaimed Water Application Sites in Orange County, Florida, 2009
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2012-1123
DOI 10.3133/ofr20121123
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Florida Water Science Center
Description vi, 54 p.
Country United States
State Florida
County Orange
Other Geospatial Lake Carter;Lake Marden;Lake Mitchell
Projection Universal Transverse Mercator projection, zone 17
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details