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
  • 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
  • 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

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  • 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.
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Low cost Nitrification-Denitrification.

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
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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
TOTAL NITROGEN​

Related Blog Posts

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

Nitrox+D

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.

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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.

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