In this study a single-well, “push–pull” test method is adapted for determination of in situ denitrification rates in groundwater aquifers. The rates of stepwise reduction of nitrate to nitrite, nitrous oxide, and molecular nitrogen were determined by performing a series of push–pull tests. The method consists of the controlled injection of a prepared test solution (“push”) into an aquifer followed by the extraction of the test solution/ground water mixture (“pull”) from the same location. The injected test solution consists of ground water containing a nonreactive tracer and one or more biologically reactive solutes. Reaction rate coefficients are computed from the mass of reactant consumed and/or product formed. A single Transport Test, one Biostimulation Test, and four Activity Tests were conducted for this study. Transport tests are conducted to evaluate the mobility of solutes used in subsequent tests. These included bromide (a conservative tracer), fumarate (a carbon and/or source), and nitrate (an electron acceptor). Extraction phase breakthrough curves for all solutes were similar, indicating apparent conservative transport of the solutes prior to biostimulation. Biostimulation tests were conducted to stimulate the activity of indigenous heterotrophic denitrifying microorganisms and consisted of injection of site ground water containing fumarate and nitrate. Biostimulation was detected by the simultaneous production of carbon dioxide and nitrite after each injection. Activity tests were conducted to quantify rates of nitrate, nitrite, and nitrous oxide reduction. Estimated zero-order degradation rates decreased in the order nitrate > nitrite > nitrous oxide. The series of push–pull tests developed and field tested in this study should prove useful for conducting rapid, low-cost feasibility assessments for in situ denitrification in nitrate-contaminated aquifers.

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