Regnery, Julia; Wing, Alexandre D.; Kautz, Jessica; Drewes, Jörg E.
Introducing sequential managed aquifer recharge technology (SMART) – From laboratory to full-scale application
Abstract Previous lab-scale studies demonstrated that stimulating the indigenous soil microbial community of groundwater recharge systems by manipulating the availability of biodegradable organic carbon (BDOC) and establishing sequential redox conditions in the subsurface resulted in enhanced removal of compounds with redox-dependent removal behavior such as trace organic chemicals. The aim of this study is to advance this concept from laboratory to full-scale application by introducing sequential managed aquifer recharge technology (SMART). To validate the concept of SMART, a full-scale managed aquifer recharge (MAR) facility in Colorado was studied for three years that featured the proposed sequential configuration: A short riverbank filtration passage followed by subsequent re-aeration and artificial recharge and recovery. Our findings demonstrate that sequential subsurface treatment zones characterized by carbon-rich (> 3 mg/L BDOC) to carbon-depleted (≤1 mg/L BDOC) and predominant oxic redox conditions can be established at full-scale MAR facilities adopting the SMART concept. The sequential configuration resulted in substantially improved trace organic chemical removal (i.e. higher biodegradation rate coefficients) for moderately biodegradable compounds compared to conventional MAR systems with extended travel times in an anoxic aquifer. Furthermore, sorption batch experiments with clay materials dispersed in the subsurface implied that sorptive processes might also play a role in the attenuation and retardation of chlorinated flame retardants during MAR. Hence, understanding key factors controlling trace organic chemical removal performance during SMART allows for systems to be engineered for optimal efficiency, resulting in improved removal of constituents at shorter subsurface travel times and a potentially reduced physical footprint of MAR installations.