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North Fork Maquoketa Denitrifying Bioreactor Installation


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In July of 2011, a denitrifying bioreactor was installed in the North Fork Maquoketa Headwaters watershed in northeast Iowa. A denitrifying bioreactor is installed to reduce nitrate delivery from agriculture fields.

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North Fork Maquoketa Denitrifying Bioreactor Installation

  1. 1. The bioreactor was designed by ISU Extension and installed by Schlietz Construction and Ernie Goebel With funding from the: Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board
  2. 2. Nitrate in tile-drainage Denitrifying bioreactor with by-pass flow Reduced nitrate loading to surface waters nitrate + organic fill bacteria nitrogen gas Tile-drained field
  3. 3. The site for the Denitrifying Bioreactor was chosen because it was in an out-of-the- way area beside a grassed waterway along Clear Creek Rd. Tile location -- outlets under the road
  4. 4. Starting the carbon biomass (woodchip) bed. This will be a 15’ wide, 100’ long, and about 3.5’ to 4’ deep with a 1.25 % grade from the inlet to the outlet.
  5. 5. Bypass tile line -- Due to location of existing tile a non-perforated bypass line was placed within the bioreactor.
  6. 6. Inlet control structure with two sets of baffles. To Bioreactor inlet tile Water from drainage tile Bypass Leave 1.5 to 2 ft at bottom Remove all baffles
  7. 7. Outlet structure plumbed with a perforated tile at lower end of bioreactor. Water will exit the bioreactor through perforated tile.
  8. 8. Outlet control structure to allow water samples to be taken and, if desired, reduce the rate of flow from bioreactor. Outlet From bioreactor
  9. 9. Non-perforated by-pass line tied in below outlet structure. Outlet control structure used to allow water samples to be collected or to slow the rate of flow out of bioreactor.
  10. 10. Biomass ‘bed’ was filled using a skid loader and spread with backhoe to prevent wheel traffic and compaction on the wood chips.
  11. 11. Inlet perforated tile– where water will enter evenly across the bioreactor. Inlet control structure – Tile water allowed to freely flow from drainage tile into bioreactor. Internal baffles used to create 1.5’ to 2’ head pressure before releasing into bypass non-perforated tile.
  12. 12. Permeable geotextile fabric used to keep soil from leaching down into the wood chips and slowing the system. Outlet Inlet
  13. 13. Soil placed back over wood chips with care not to put too much wheel traffic on chip bed.
  14. 14. Bioreactor mounded to reduce chances of washout. Waterway will be shaped and reseeded. The goal is to have 1 to 1.5 Ft of soil covering wood chips.