High levels of accumulated phosphorus (P) in soils of the Delmarva Peninsula are a major source of dissolved P entering drainage ditches that empty into the Chesapeake Bay. The objective of this study was to design, construct, and monitor a within-ditch filter to remove dissolved P, thereby protecting receiving waters against P losses from upstream areas. In April 2007, 110 Mg of flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum, a low-cost coal combustion product, was used as the reactive ingredient in a ditch filter. The ditch filter was monitored from 2007 to 2010, during which time 29 storm-induced flow events were characterized. For storm-induced flow, the event mean concentration efficiency for total dissolved P (TDP) removal for water passing through the gypsum bed was 73 ± 27% confidence interval (α = 0.05). The removal efficiency for storm-induced flow by the summation of load method was 65 ± 27% confidence interval (α = 0.05). Although chemically effective, the maximum observed hydraulic conductivity of FGD gypsum was 4 L s-1, but it decreased over time to <1 L s-1. When bypass flow and base flow were taken into consideration, the ditch filter removed approximately 22% of the TDP load over the 3.6-yr monitoring period. Due to maintenance and clean-out requirements, we conclude that ditch filtration using FGD gypsum is not practical at a farm scale. However, we propose an alternate design consisting of FGD gypsum-filled trenches parallel to the ditch to intercept and treat groundwater before it enters the ditch.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Water Science and Technology
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law