Organic Carbon Amendments for Enhanced Biological Attenuation of Trace Organic Contaminants in Biochar-Amended Stormwater Biofilters

Bridget A. Ulrich, Marta Vignola, Katelynn Edgehouse, David Werner, Christopher P. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


This study sought to evaluate how dissolved organic carbon (DOC) affects attenuation of trace organic contaminants (TOrCs) in biochar-amended stormwater biofilters. It was hypothesized that (1) DOC-augmented runoff would demonstrate enhanced TOrC biodegradation and (2) biochar-amended sand bearing DOC-cultivated biofilms would achieve enhanced TOrC attenuation due to sorptive retention and biodegradation. Microcosm and column experiments were conducted utilizing actual runoff, DOC from straw and compost, and a suite of TOrCs. Biodegradation of TOrCs in runoff was more enhanced by compost DOC than straw DOC (particularly for atrazine, prometon, benzotriazole, and fipronil). 16S rRNA gene quantification and sequencing revealed that growth-induced microbial community changes were, among replicates, most consistent for compost-augmented microcosms and least consistent for raw runoff microcosms. Compost DOC most robustly enhanced utilization of TOrCs as carbon substrates, possibly due to higher residual nutrient levels upon TOrC exposure. Sand columns containing just 0.5 wt % biochar maintained sorptive TOrC retention in the presence of compost-DOC-cultivated biofilms, and TOrC removal was further enhanced by biological activity. Overall, these results suggest that coamendment with biochar and compost may robustly enhance TOrC attenuation in stormwater biofilters, a finding of significance for efforts to mitigate the impacts of runoff on water quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9184-9193
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant DGE-1057607 and the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center Program under Cooperative Agreements EEC-1028968 (ReNUWIt) and EEC-1262655. Collaboration with Newcastle University on 16S rRNA gene quantification and sequencing was facilitated by EPSRC grant EP/K021737/1 and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Initial Training Network (MERMAID) grant 607492.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


Dive into the research topics of 'Organic Carbon Amendments for Enhanced Biological Attenuation of Trace Organic Contaminants in Biochar-Amended Stormwater Biofilters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this