U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


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National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio 45268


This report summarizes the findings of an evaluation of sprinkler irrigation as a volatile organic compound (VOC) separation and disposal method.

Background A need for lower cost, effective treatment alternatives for the disposal of treated contaminated groundwater provided the impetus to conduct a SITE demonstration of sprinkler irrigation since it provides both separation and disposal options. Since the application of irrigation is fairly widespread throughout the United States, there may be an opportunity to employ this as a dual purpose technology; concurrent irrigation and disposal of treated groundwater. In order to determine whether this option is viable, it is necessary to address several issues: 1) can the contaminants be stripped from the groundwater effectively? 2) is irrigation necessary for crop cultivation? 3) are the increased health risks associated with the air emissions acceptable? 4) are there state or federal laws which prohibit the release of the resultant air emissions? and 5) is this an acceptable alternative to the community? The results of previous studies conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) concluded that: irrigation systems can effectively strip VOCs from the groundwater; stripping efficiencies can be improved to produce drinking quality water; water is used on site for beneficial crop needs; capture zones formed will contain contamination; air emissions will not be a concern; and a significant savings in resources will result. In order to provide independent verification of the technology performance and complement the results previously reported by UNL, an evaluation was conducted by the EPA SITE Program in cooperation with EPA Executive Summary Region 7 and UNL. The demonstration focused on the technology effectiveness, irrigation requirements, air emissions, and costs. The technology demonstration was conducted on July 17,1996 at a contaminated groundwater site in Hastings, Nebraska.