8.5 Dissolved organic matter dosing to enhance in situ pesticide biodegradation in drinking water aquifers

In the Netherlands, approximately two-thirds of the drinking water is produced from groundwater. A recent study by the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment found pesticide residues at approximately 25% of the 215 drinking water locations. Due to the distributed nature of the source and the uncertainties about the dispersion of pesticides via groundwater, strategies to protect drinking water sources have been insufficient. Therefore, there is a need for technology for the in situ removal of pesticides in drinking water aquifers.

Research challenge
Pesticides in groundwater can be degraded by microorganism in a process called natural attenuation. The presence of natural dissolved organic matter (DOM) has been shown to be a key factor in this natural attenuation process, indicating that DOM addition could be used to enhance biodegradation. The goal of this research is to develop an robust in situ biodegradation technology using DOM amendment based on a fundamental understanding of the role of DOM in pesticide biodegradation. In this research, the effect of different fractions of DOM on the pesticide biodegradation and the involved microbial communities will be investigated. Subsequently, column experiments are performed in which the field conditions are simulated, with these results being used to develop a model for groundwater in situ bioremediation. Finally the obtained remediation strategy will be validated in the field.

We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in the field of environmental biotechnology, applied microbiology or a related discipline, with a proven record of excellent experimental and theoretical skills. An affinity with geochemistry, molecular biology, hydrological modeling, and field investigations is highly appreciated. The candidate should have strong analytical thinking and writing skills as well as a good capacity for interaction with stakeholders involved in the project.

The research project is part of the Wetsus research theme Groundwater technology.
The following companies are part of the theme:
- Vitens
- Arcadis
- A.Hak
- BioSoil

Promotor: HHM (Huub) Rijnaarts (Wageningen University, Environmental Technology)
Co-promotor: NB (Nora) Sutton (Wageningen University, Environmental Technology)
Wetsus supervisor: RJW (Roel) Meulepas

For more information contact: Nora Sutton ().

Please do NOT send your CV directly to this email address. Only complete applications sent via the website will be evaluated (How to Apply).

Wetsus, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

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