April 24, 2015
Jim Keeton, M.S., Director of Science and Technology at Keeton Industries
Becky Rivoire, Ph.D., Microbiologist at Keeton Industries
Beneficial bacteria are a natural solution for improving water quality in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and canals. Aquatron™ and Waste and Sludge Reducer™ (WSR) produced by Keeton Industries, Inc., which combine specific microbes, nutrients, and trace minerals derived from nature. Beneficial microorganisms that are naturally present in the aquatic environment are typically at low levels, so they work much slower at reducing nutrients to maintain water quality. Aquatron™ and Waste and Sludge Reducer™ contains two billion bacteria per gram. At this elevated concentration, metabolic activity is increased, reducing surplus nutrients in the aquatic environment.
Keeton products have been successfully used for well over 20 years in mitigation of eutrophic and hyper-eutrophic water bodies, wastewater facilities, and aqua-cultural systems by reduction of excess nutrients. Uptake of nutrients from water bodies by these microbes are rapid and can be measured easily by spectrometry before and after treatment to monitor the reduction of phosphorus, ammonia and nitrite compounds.
Phosphorus in Lakes
Biologically available phosphorus is found in lakes, waterways and wastewater in the form of phosphates. The discharge of reclaimed wastewater and watershed drainage will increase a lake’s phosphate level. Lawn and landscape fertilizer runoff are another major source of phosphate in lakes and their use should be avoided near the water.
Total phosphorus measures all the forms of phosphorus, both dissolved and particulate. Ponds and lakes are categorized by their total phosphorus level and high phosphorus waters are considered polluted or “eutrophic”. Phosphorus is one of the key elements necessary for growth of plants and animals and in lake ecosystems it tends to be the growth limiting nutrient and is a backbone of the Kreb’s Cycle and DNA. The presence of phosphorus is often scarce in the well-oxygenated lake waters and importantly, the low levels of phosphorus limit the production of freshwater systems. Unlike nitrogen, phosphate is retained in the soil by a complex system of biological uptake, absorption, and mineralization.
Phosphates are not toxic to people or animals unless they are present in very high levels. Digestive problems could occur from extremely high levels of phosphate. The phosphate becomes incorporated into the biological system but the key areas include: ATP, DNA, and RNA. ATP adenosine triphosphate is important in the storage and use of energy and a key stage in the Kreb’s Cycle. RNA and DNA are the backbones of life on this planet, via genetics.
Nitrogen and Ammonia in Lakes
Nitrogen is a product of the natural metabolism of plant and animal matter, and fertilizer runoff. Organic nitrogen can take many forms in water, including nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia. If ammonia is present in significant quantities, it can indicate that the water column does not have sufficient oxygen to oxidize ammonia to nitrite and nitrate. Reduced fertilizer applications near shorelines can sometimes help prevent increases in these and other nutrient levels, but much of the ammonia and phosphate present in older lakes (5+ years) is recycled from the sediment. Both aeration and dredging can reduce this internal loading.
Ammonia can be toxic to fish and other animals, and the toxicity is based on the total ammonia concentration, pH, and temperature. We chose our acceptable ammonia levels based on where we might expect to start seeing toxicity under some pH and temperature conditions. When we see levels higher than 1 mg/L, we suspect unusual discharges (such as treated wastewater) to that pond.