Document Type


Date of Original Version



Natural Resources Science


Wastewater is a major source of nitrogen (N) to groundwater and coastal waterbodies, threatening both environmental and public health. Advanced N-removal onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) are used to reduce effluent N concentration; however, few studies have assessed their effectiveness. We evaluated the total N (TN) concentration of effluent from 50 advanced N-removal OWTS in Charlestown, Rhode Island, USA for 3 years. We quantified differences in effectiveness as a function of N-removal technology and home occupancy pattern (seasonal vs. year-round use), and examined the relationship between wastewater properties and TN concentration. RX30 systems produced the lowest median TN concentration (mg N/L) (13.2), followed by FAST (13.4), AX20 (14.9), and Norweco (33.8). Compliance with the state’s regulatory standard for effluent TN concentration (19 mg N/L) was highest for RX30 systems (78%), followed by AX20 (73%), FAST (67%), and Norweco (0%). Occupancy pattern did not affect effluent TN concentration. Variation in TN concentration was driven by ammonium and nitrate for all technologies, and also by temperature for FAST and pH for Norweco. Median daily (g N/day) and annual (kg N/yr) N loads were significantly higher for year-round (5.3 and 2.3) than for seasonal (3.7 and 0.41) systems, likely due to differences in volume of wastewater treated. Our results suggest that advanced N-removal OWTS vary in their compliance with the state regulatory standard for effluent TN and can withstand long periods of non-use without compromising effectiveness. Nevertheless, systems used year-round do produce a higher daily and annual N load than seasonally-used systems.

Amador_Ross_EffectofAdvNitrogen_2020_SuppMat.docx (14 kB)
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