Efficacy of drinking-water treatment residual in controlling off-site phosphorus losses: A field study in Florida
Received for publication August 23, 2008. Land application of drinking-water treatment residuals (WTR) has been shown to control excess soil soluble P and can reduce off-site P losses to surface and ground water. To our knowledge, no field study has directly evaluated the impacts of land application of WTRs on ground water quality. We monitored the effects of three organic sources of P (poultry manure, Boca Raton biosolids, Pompano biosolids) or triple superphosphate co-applied with an aluminum-based WTR (Al-WTR) on soil and ground water P and Al concentrations under natural field conditions for 20 mo in a soil with limited P sorption capacity. The P sources were applied at two rates (based on P or nitrogen [N] requirement of bahiagrass) with or without Al-WTR amendment and replicated three times. Without WTR application, applied P sources increased surface soil soluble P concentrations regardless of the P source or application rate. Co-applying the P sources with Al-WTR prevented increases in surface soil soluble P concentrations and reduced P losses to shallow ground water. Total dissolved P and orthophosphate concentrations of shallow well ground water of the N-based treatments were greater (>0.9 and 0.3 mg L–1, respectively) in the absence than in the presence (~0.6 and 0.2 mg L–1, respectively) of Al-WTR. The P-based application rate did not increase ground water P concentrations relative to background concentrations. Notwithstanding, Al-WTR amendment decreased ground water P concentrations from soil receiving treatments with P-based application rates. Ground water total dissolved Al concentrations were unaffected by soil Al-WTR application. We conclude that, at least for the study period, Al-WTR can be safely used to reduce P leaching into ground water without increasing the Al concentration of ground water.