Nutrient removal, orthophosphate, copper, sorption, bioactivated media, stormwater management, stormwater treatment, detention pond, isotherm, thomas model


For high groundwater table areas, stormwater wet detention ponds are utilized as the preferred stormwater management throughout the state of Florida. Previous research has found that accumulations of nutrients, algae, heavy metals, pesticides, chlorophyll a, fecal coliform bacteria and low concentrations of dissolved oxygen (DO) are common characteristics of stormwater wet detention ponds. Although these pollutant levels are not regulated within the ponds, states are required to compute the pollutant load reductions through total maximum daily load (TMDL) programs to meet the water quality requirements addressed by the Clean Water Act (CWA). In this study, field sampling data of stormwater ponds throughout Florida are presented to identify concentration levels of the main contaminants of concern in the discharge of wet detention ponds. Sampling was done to identify possible sources, in addition to possible removal mechanisms via the use of specific sorption media. Nutrients were found as a main problematic pollutant, of which orthophosphate, total phosphorus, ammonia, nitrate, and total nitrogen were targeted whereas heavy metals exhibited minor concerns. Accumulation of high nutrient concentrations may be mitigated by the adoption of best management practices (BMPs) utilizing biosorption activated media (BAM) to remove phosphorus and nitrogen species through physical, chemical, and biological processes. This study aims to increase overall scientific understanding of phosphorus removal dynamics in sorption media systems via Langmuir and Freundlich isotherms and column studies. The removal of phosphorus (P) was proven effective primarily through chemophysical processes. The maximum orthophosphate adsorption capacities were determined under varying conditions of the media within the columns, which were found up to 0.000534 mg-P adsorbed per gram BAM with influent concentrations of 1 mg∙L -1 orthophosphate in distilled water and 1 hour hydraulic residence time (HRT). When using iv spiked pond water under the same conditions, the adsorption capacity was increased about 30 times to 0.01507 mg-P∙g -1 BAM presumably due to the properties and concentrations of ions affecting the diffusion rate regulating the surface orthophosphate reactions. These equilibrium media uptake values (q) were used to calculate the life expectancies of the media under varying HRT and influent concentrations of treatment. Chemophysical and biological removal capabilities of the media for total nitrogen, ammonia, and nitrate were effective in columns using 1100 g of BAM. In flow-through column conditions, ammonia had a consistent ~95% removal while effluent nitrate concentrations were highly variable due to the simultaneous nitrificationdenitrification processes once an aerobic-anaerobic environment was established. Batch column experiments simulating no-flow conditions within a media bed reactor resulted in orthophosphate removals comparable with the continuous flow conditions, increased total phosphorus effluents indicative of chemical precipitation of orthophosphate, decreased ammonia removal, and increased nitrate removal. Due to a biofilm’s sensitivity to even low copper concentrations and accumulation in ponds, a copper sorption media mix of "green" materials was generated. Freundlich and Langmuir isotherm tests concluded a successful mix resulting in copper removal efficiencies up to 96%.


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Graduation Date





Chang, Ni-Bin


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering

Degree Program

Environmental Engineering; Environmental Engineering Sciences








Release Date


Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic