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A spoonful of sugar helps the nitrates go down

NEWS

WESSEX WATER engineers are using a spoonful of sugar to make the nitrates in borehole water go down, NCE can report.

In the first scheme of its kind, boreholes in Devizes, Wiltshire, have been treated with a glucose solution over the last two weeks to stimulate naturally occurring bacteria that process the nitrates into gas.

Drinking water from all sources must contain less than 11.3mg/litre nitrates. If levels are higher, the nitrates can damage the health of young babies.

Wessex Water resources manager Luke de Vial said this week that it is hoped that the glucose will boost the population of nitrate eating bacteria in the groundwater feeding the borehole.

'The glucose provides a carbon source for the bacteria underground to grow, that then use the nitrates, and reduce them to nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide, ' he said.

This is done by injecting a diluted glucose solution 80m upstream of the abstraction point ensuring that by the time the groundwater reaches the borehole it is free of nitrates and any traces of the glucose solution.

De Vial added that the glucose trials were instigated when it was discovered that nitrate levels were rising in the area, due to an increase in nitrate rich fertiliser run-off.

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