Nitrate Remediation Strategies

Nitrate pollution of our waterways and ground water is caused by many sources.  One of the largest is the un-controlled release of irrigation runoff into local rivers, streams,  and other water bodies.   People living local to a major agricultural area often experience their wells being contaminated by nitrate and other agricultural chemicals percolating down through soil into the underlying acquifer.  Nutrients released into surface waterways can accumulate in ponds, lakes, and coast areas causing massive algal blooms and measureable economic damages.

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Tax or InnovAte?  

Given the widespread problem of nitrate contamination,  how should landowners, growers,  local governments and NGO's solve this problem?   Classical economic theory would suggest that we tax the nitrate being used on the input side.  A so-called "Pigouvian Tax"  should incentivize growers to be much more careful about the amount of nutrients being applied.  On the other hand,  the State of California has existing laws that forbid the release of these nutrients from farms and fields.  Yet,  the state has opted to provide "waivers" to growers under the assumption that the growers would develop solutions to reduce nutrient emissions.  

The vast majority of peer reviewed literature spends an inordinate amount of time describing our problems but provides scant actionable strategies for solving this problem. These solutions include constructed wetlands,  vegatative strips,  taxes (or attempts to tax nutrients), and civil litigation to hold growers responsible for contaminating the drinking water aquifers near their operations.   All of these solutions suffer from the same problems: 

  1. Require large, often valuable, areas of farmland to be taken out of production

  2. Very low rates of denitification or phosphorus removal

  3. Inability to deal with the high levels of nitrate leaving farms- often > 75 mg/L NO3-N (7x the legal limit).

Tailwater's high performance bioreactors can solve all of these problems effectively and quickly.  The catch-  you will need a strategy for using our  nitrate removal systems in the large area farming operations to minimize the cost of the systems and ongoing operating costs.

50 GPM System Requires only an 80'x20' space