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Lagoon Total Nitrogen

Some lagoons are receiving a total nitrogen or nitrate discharge requirement.

Here’s why – and how to help your lagoon treat it.

Total nitrogen’s effect on the environment

  • At dilute concentrations, ammonia is highly toxic to fish and amphibious life.
  • Nitrate is a nutrient that act as a fertilizer for aquatic plants, leading to eutrophication which degrades the water quality within receiving streams.
  • If nitrate finds its way into drinking water systems, it can lead to blue baby syndrome.
Dead Fish

How do we remove total nitrogen?

Nitrification, then denitrification.

  • Nitrification is the process by which ammonia is converted to nitrites (NO2-) and then nitrates (NO3-).
  • This conversion is performed by nitrifying bacteria: Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter.
  • Denitrification is the process of converting nitrates to nitrogen gas.

Nitrogen removal basics

  • Nitrification is an aerobic process that requires oxygen and nitrifying bacteria to convert ammonia to nitrate.
  • Low BOD allows nitrifying bacteria to flourish unimpeded by the heterotrophic BOD-consuming bacteria.
  • Denitrification is an anoxic process that requires the absence of oxygen (typically under 0.5 mg/L of dissolved oxygen).
  • Some BOD is required to drive down DO and foster the growth of heterotrophic bacteria that need BOD as a carbon source. In absence of oxygen, they use the oxygen molecule in nitrate, freeing the nitrogen molecule to become a gas.

Lagoons struggle with temperature

Desotonh3 Dark 01
  • Typical municipal lagoons will nitrify during the summer
  • Lagoon water temperatures are highly dependent on ambient temperatures
  • Once the water temperature dips below 10° C, nitrification drops off and effluent ammonia starts to increase.
Leverages lagoons.
Fits any site.
Low cost Nitrification-Denitrification.
Nitrox D Diagram Background
BOD Removal
Temperature Regulation
NitrOx Reactors
NitrOx+D Reactor

Growing more nitrifiers and denitrifiers overcomes low temperatures

Nitrifier Picture
  • Nitrifiers and denitrifiers are attached growth organisms and will grow on surface area within the reactors.
  • More surface area = more nitrifiers and denitrifiers = more nitrification at colder temperatures
  • A larger population of nitrifiers can nitrify in water temperatures as low as 0.2° C
  • High surface area media allow for smaller footprint and lower media costs.

Ares provides efficient aeration & mixing

The Ares Aerator® inside the NitrOx tanks provides:
  • Oxygen transfer efficiency (SOTE) of up to 2.4%/ft of submergence.
  • Mixing of 7,800 GPM per aerator
  • Portability for maintenance of system
Ares Exploded 3 2023

Mixer and carbon feed in NitrOx+D

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  • Nitrate can be constantly monitored within the reactor for process control
  • A carbon feed provides precise levels of BOD in order to optimize conditions for denitrification
  • Robust mixing ensures that the heterotrophic denitrifiers and carbon are in constant contact to optimize treatment

Related Blog Posts

Lagoon nitrogen can be removed via biological nitrification and denitrification, converting ammonia-nitrogen from nitrites to nitrates to nitrogen gas.


Download the NitrOx+D brochure

Learn how NitrOx+D can help your lagoon to meet a low effluent limit for ammonia, nitrates, and Total Nitrogen.

Nitrox D Nitrogen Removal Whitepaper Cover
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Proven performance. Guaranteed results.

We pledge to provide all our customers with the most authentic, long-term solution available. These solutions are built on the shoulders of more than 30 years of professional wastewater engineering experience. Our commitments to excellence, sound research, adaptability, and environmental consciousness separate Triplepoint from our competition.

We stand behind our products and processes. Every installation is backed by our Technology Performance Guarantee: We guarantee that our equipment will do what we say it will do.

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We’re ready to help.

Whether you’re looking for a total nitrogen solution for your lagoon or just have a quick question about algae, we’re here for you.

We want to be your #1 resource for all things wastewater lagoons. If we can help you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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