Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Extent and persistence of secondary water quality impacts after enhanced reductive bioremediation

April 11, 2017

Electron donor (ED) addition can be very effective in stimulating enhanced reductive bioremediation (ERB) of a wide variety of groundwater contaminants. However, ERB can result in Secondary Water Quality Impacts (SWQIs) including decreased levels of dissolved oxygen (O2), nitrate (NO3- ), and sulfate (SO42- ), and elevated levels of dissolved manganese (Mn2+), dissolved iron (Fe2+), methane (CH4), sulfide (S2- ), organic carbon, and naturally occurring hazardous compounds (e.g., arsenic). Fortunately, this ‘plume’ of impacted groundwater is usually confined within the original contaminant plume and is unlikely to adversely impact potable water supplies. This report summarizes available information on processes controlling the production and natural attenuation of SWQI parameters and can be used as a guide in understanding the magnitude, areal extent, and duration of SWQIs in ERB treatment zones and the natural attenuation of SWQI parameters as the dissolved solutes migrate downgradient with ambient groundwater flow. This information was compiled from a wide variety of sources including a survey and statistical analysis of SWQIs from 47 ERB sites, geochemical model simulations, field studies at sites where organic-rich materials have entered the subsurface (e.g., wastewater, landfill leachate, and hydrocarbon plumes), and basic information on physical, chemical, and biological processes in the subsurface. This information is then integrated to provide a general conceptual model of the major processes controlling SWQI production and attenuation.

Publication Year 2017
Title Extent and persistence of secondary water quality impacts after enhanced reductive bioremediation
Authors Robert C. Borden, Jason M. Tillotson, Gene-Hua Crystal Ng, Barbara A. Bekins, Douglas B. Kent, Gary P. Curtis
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Series Title Technical Report
Series Number ER-2131
Index ID 70181014
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Western Branch