Biotransformation of trace organic chemicals during groundwater recharge: How useful are first-order rate constants?

J. Regnery, A.D. Wing, Mazahirali Alidina, J.E. Drewes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


This study developed relationships between the attenuation of emerging trace organic chemicals (TOrC) during managed aquifer recharge (MAR) as a function of retention time, system characteristics, and operating conditions using controlled laboratory-scale soil column experiments simulating MAR. The results revealed that MAR performance in terms of TOrC attenuation is primarily determined by key environmental parameters (i.e. redox, primary substrate). Soil columns with suboxic and anoxic conditions performed poorly (i.e. less than 30% attenuation of moderately degradable TOrC) in comparison to oxic conditions (on average between 70-100% attenuation for the same compounds) within a residence time of three days. Given this dependency on redox conditions, it was investigated if key parameter-dependent rate constants are more suitable for contaminant transport modeling to properly capture the dynamic TOrC attenuation under field-scale conditions. Laboratory-derived first-order removal kinetics were determined for 19 TOrC under three different redox conditions and rate constants were applied to MAR field data. Our findings suggest that simplified first-order rate constants will most likely not provide any meaningful results if the target compounds exhibit redox dependent biotransformation behavior or if the intention is to exactly capture the decline in concentration over time and distance at field-scale MAR. However, if the intention is to calculate the percent removal after an extended time period and subsurface travel distance, simplified first-order rate constants seem to be sufficient to provide a first estimate on TOrC attenuation during MAR.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
StatePublished - May 29 2015

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Biotransformation of trace organic chemicals during groundwater recharge: How useful are first-order rate constants?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this