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Ammonia in Fla. Groundwater




02/16/00
Thank you everyone for your assistance in my inquiry on ammonia(NH3)  in the
Floridan Aquifer in south Florida.

With the assistance of the Florida Association of Professional Geologists
(FAPG) here is the FDEP's response to my inquiry.

Best Wishes,
Donald Sutherland
Member of the Society of Environmental Journalists
donaldsutherland-iso14000@worldnet.att.net


Dear Mr. Sutherland,

The following information is in response to your question concerning ammonia
in ground water. The responses are from two DEP employees familiar with
ground water chemistry and quality issues. The first response is from Rick
Copeland, as follows:


"I searched in SP34 to find the answer.   In Sam's (Upchurch) chapter, on p.
36, column 4, it says, "Swamps and organic horizons in soil contribute
natural ammonium and or nitrates to aquifers.  Under most circumstances,
however, decay of the organics is sufficiently slow that nitrogen compounds
are
utilized within the wetland and adjacent aquifers.  High nitrate and
ammonium
concentrations in aquifers are most likely to be caused by inadequate soil
and aquifer conditions and contamination by human or animal wastes."

For ammonia, I asked Paul Hansard if he would take a shot at it.  His
response is attached."

The next is an additional response from Paul Hansard:

"We analyze for ammonia in ground water primarily to learn about the
distribution of nitrogen in ground water. Although knowledge of the
presence of ammonia in ground water, by itself, is of limited value,
knowledge of nitrogen can be of great interest, depending on its
concentration, and its chemical form. As nitrate or nitrite, nitrogen can
be toxic to animals when consumed, and as ammonia, it can be toxic to
aquatic life. Because nitrogen is a biolimiting nutrient, it is typically
present in ground water in minute quantities, being consumed in the
immediate subsurface by bacteria and plants. Hence, its presence in ground
water, in of its chemical forms may be indicative of nutrient overload at
the surface, due to either animal wastes or inorganic fertilizers."


Please let me know if I or FAPG can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,
Jackie Lloyd