Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Published in J. Environ. Qual. (2012) 41:672–679. DOI:10.2134/jeq2011.0045


Copyright © 2012 by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. Used by Permission.


Reduction of phosphorus (P) inputs to surface waters may decrease eutrophication. Some researchers have proposed fi ltering dissolved P in runoff with P-sorptive byproducts in structures placed in hydrologically active areas with high soil P concentrations. Th e objectives of this study were to construct and monitor a P removal structure in a suburban watershed and test the ability of empirically developed fl ow-through equations to predict structure performance. Steel slag was used as the P sorption material in the P removal structure. Water samples were collected before and after the structure using automatic samples and analyzed for total dissolved P. During the fi rst 5 mo of structure operation, 25% of all dissolved P was removed from rainfall and irrigation events. Phosphorus was removed more effi ciently during low fl ow rate irrigation events with a high retention time than during high fl ow rate rainfall events with a low retention time. Th e six largest fl ow events occurred during storm fl ow and accounted for 75% of the P entering the structure and 54% of the P removed by the structure. Flow-through equations developed for predicting structure performance produced reasonable estimates of structure “lifetime” (16.8 mo). However, the equations overpredicted cumulative P removal. Th is was likely due to diff erences in pH, total Ca and Fe, and alkalinity between the slag used in the structure and the slag used for model development. Th is suggests the need for an overall model that can predict structure performance based on individual material properties.