Impact of compost reactive layer on hydraulic transport and C & N cycles: Biogeochemical modeling of infiltration column experiments

Arnau Canelles, Paula Rodríguez-Escales, Jakub Jan Modrzyński, Christian Albers, Xavier Sanchez-Vila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is a key strategy to increase freshwater resources in many regions facing water scarcity. MAR issues are related to both quantity and quality of the infiltrating water. In most countries, very high quality of the infiltrating water is required, to limit the impact on the aquifer geochemistry. In this paper, the possibility of injecting water of lower quality in the aquifer and letting the biogeochemical reactions take place in order to enhance its quality is explored. Here, we present the fate of nutrients (C, N) in the biogeochemical system of a reactive barrier formed by mixture of different proportions of sand and compost, supplied with treated wastewater to mimic MAR. An integrated conceptual model involving the nutrient cycles and biomass dynamics (auto- and heterotrophic) was developed, and then tested with a number of solute transport experiments in columns with different compost fraction in the column filling. The model incorporated both saturation and inhibition processes (regarding the nutrients and their byproducts) to provide a comprehensive picture of the nutrient dynamics within the column. The model developed (three if considering the 3 column setups) allowed to discriminate the processes that govern the fate of nutrients in relation with the compost enhancing long-term nutrient degradation, yet hindering hydraulic parameters that affect infiltration rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145490
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021


  • Bioclogging
  • Column experiments
  • Managed aquifer recharge
  • Nitrogen cycle
  • Reactive transport modeling

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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