A simple apparatus was designed to collect ammonia gas coming out from waste stabilization ponds (WSP). The apparatus has a capture chamber and an absorption system, which were optimized under laboratory conditions prior to being used to assess ammonia volatilization rates in a pilot-scale maturation pond during summer 2005. Under laboratory conditions (water temperature = 17.1 °C and pH = 10.1), the average ammonia volatilization rate was 2,517 g NH3-N/ha d and the apparatus absorbed 79% of volatilized ammonia. On site, the mean ammonia volatilization rate was 15 g N/ha d, which corresponds to 3% of the total nitrogen removed (531 g N/ha d) in the maturation pond studied. A net nitrogen mass balance showed that ammonia volatilization was not the most important mechanism involved in either total nitrogen or ammonia removal. Nitrogen fractions (suspended organic nitrogen, soluble organic nitrogen, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate) from the M1 influent and effluent showed that ammonia is removed by biological (mainly algal) uptake and total nitrogen removal by sedimentation of dead algal biomass.

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