Monitoring nitrate reduction: hydrogeochemistry and clogging potential in raw water wells.

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Ortmeyer, F.
Volkova, K.
Wisotzky, F.
Wohnlich, S.
Banning, Andre
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The mainly agricultural input of NO3- and compliance with drinking water guideline values pose major challenges for many water suppliers. Additionally, associated changes in hydrochemistry, especially concerning products of NO3- reduction (Fe2+/3+, Mn2+/4+, Ca2+, Mg2+, SO42-, HCO3-) and subsequent reactions, can have a major influence on mineral saturation states and well yield: well productivity can be strongly reduced by mineral precipitation and silting. To evaluate hydrogeochemical evolution and clogging potential for a given well field, thorough hydrochemical and geochemical investigations are required. Therefore, time-dependent and depth-specific ion concentrations in water samples (n = 818) were analysed in a catchment area of a waterworks in western Germany. The sediments of the aquifers were extensively investigated for their geochemistry (CS, scanning electron microscope, aqua regia digestion and dithionite solution; n = 253). In addition, PhreeqC was used to model saturation indices in order to identify possible mineral precipitation in the wells. Results show a high NO3- input into deep wells screened in Tertiary sediments due to an admixture of Quaternary groundwater. Directly at the Quaternary-Tertiary boundary, chemolithotrophic NO3- reduction consuming pyrite occurs. Protons released during the process are pH-buffered by dissolving carbonate minerals. Overall, the hydrochemistry and especially the saturation indices are strongly influenced by NO3- reduction and its degradation products. A change in well yield has not yet been observed, but future clogging by ochre formation or sintering cannot be excluded.
Hydrochemistry , Nitrate degradation , Well clogging , Admixture , Germany
Ortmeyer, F., Volkova, K., Wisotzky, F., Wohnlich, S. and Banning, A. (2021) ‘Monitoring nitrate reduction: hydrogeochemistry and clogging potential in raw water wells’, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment , 193, 112 (17 pp). doi: 10.1007/s10661-021-08880-y