Nitrate and pesticide contaminated ground- and surface-waters have been found around the world as a result of the use of these compounds in agricultural activities. In this study we investigated a biological treatment method to simultaneously remove nitrate and pesticides from contaminated water. Methane was supplied as the sole source of carbon to the microbial culture. A methane-fed membrane biofilm reactor (M-MBfR) was developed in which the methane was supplied through hollow-fiber membranes to a biofilm growing on the membrane surface. A methane-oxidizing culture enriched from activated sludge was used as inoculum for the experiments. Removal of nitrate and the four pesticides atrazine, aldicarb, alachlor, and malathion was examined both in suspended culture and in the M-MBfR. The maximum denitrification rate with suspended culture was 36.8 mg N gVSS−1 d−1. With the M-MBfR setup, a hydraulic retention time of approximately one hour was required to completely remove an incoming nitrate concentration of about 20 mg NO3‐N l−1. The microbial culture could remove three of the pesticides (aldicarb, alachlor, and malathion). However, no atrazine removal was observed. The removal rates of both nitrate and pesticides were similar in suspended culture and in membrane-attached biofilm.

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