Many regions in the United States have excessive levels of ammonia in their drinking water sources (e.g., ground and surface waters) as a result of naturally occurring processes, agricultural and urban runoff, concentrated animal feeding operations, municipal wastewater treatment plants, and other sources.
Ammonia is not regulated by the USEPA as a contaminant. Based on a 2003 WHO assessment, ammonia levels in groundwater are typically below 0.2 mg/L, and does not pose a direct health concern at levels expected in drinking water; however, it may pose a concern when nitrification of significant levels of ammonia from the source water occurs in the drinking water distribution system. Specifically, this nitrification, which is the conversion of the ammonia to nitrite and nitrate by bacteria, leads to water quality issues, such as potential corrosion problems, oxidant demand, taste and odor complaints, and elevated nitrite levels
Ammonia in water may also pose problems with water treatment effectiveness. For example, in source waters containing both ammonia and arsenic, the ammonia may negatively impact the removal of arsenic by creating a chlorine demand, therefore reducing the availability of chlorine needed to oxidize the arsenic. Lastly, water systems that have ammonia in their source water and desire to maintain a free chlorine residual will need to add additional chlorine to overcome the demand of ammonia. Clearly, the complete oxidation of source water ammonia prior to or as part of the water treatment process would eliminate the potential negative impacts of nitrification on distribution system water quality.
NoMonia is a treatment approach to reduce source water ammonia. The process relies on bacteria to convert ammonia to nitrate. As a result, a more biologically stable water is produced, nitrification in the distribution system is not an issue, and free chlorine residual is easily achieved.
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