Usually offered in the spring semester, you can get updates with this graduate level course on our FB page by clicking here. The link on the left “Launch Project” takes you to a module we developed for this course based on the David Tippin Water Treatment Plant in Tampa, FL.

The aqueous environment presents an interesting system to study and with the right understanding and problem solving tools one can interpret and assess the complex systems that exist. This course focuses on the chemistry of natural waters, especially fresh water systems such as lakes, ponds, rivers, and groundwater. Students are introduced to the concepts of equilibrium as they relate to water chemistry.  Emphasis is placed on solving problems that involve: acid-base equilibrium, heterogeneous equilibria, coordination chemistry, redox reactions and adsorption.

Course Objectives

After taking this course students will be able to:

  • Understand aqueous chemical equilibrium and solve problems that involve:
    • acid-base equilibrium (How much will my river water change if an acidic waste stream starts to discharge into it?)
    • heterogeneous equilibria (How much will the pH of my water change if atmospheric CO2 levels increased to 500 ppm? How do I get rid of the precipitates that clog waterless urinals?)
    • coordination chemistry (What happens to heavy metals like lead in my drinking water when the amount of other chemicals added during disinfection changes?)
    • redox reactions (What’s a good chemical that I can use to oxidize (covert) an organic contaminant into CO2 and water?)
    • surface chemistry (How does my Brita filter work and what local materials can I use to remove heavy metals like arsenic from my water?)
  • Relate topics of aquatic chemistry to research reported in literature
  • Communicate aquatic chemistry concepts as they apply to a current environmental challenge

What is Aquatic chemistry? Here’s what some of the textbook writers say:

“Over the past several decades, the field of environmental aquatic chemistry has expanded to encompass studies of the source, distribution, transport, reaction rates, and fate of chemicals in natural aquatic systems, while maintaining its historical links to chemistry of water treatment processes.” Benjamin, 2010

“Aquatic chemistry is concerned with the chemical reactions and processes affecting the distribution and circulation of chemical species in natural waters. The objectives include the development of a theoretical basis for the chemical behavior of ocean waters, estuaries, rivers, lakes, groundwaters, and soil water systems, as well as the description of processes involved in water technology.” Stumm and Morgan, 1996 

“Over the past decade the subject of aquatic chemistry has evolved to take a more detailed mechanistic view of the reactions that control the chemistry of natural waters; it has also broadened to encompass the elemental cycles that determine the overall chemistry of the biosphere.” Morel and Hering, 1993

“A knowledge of water chemistry is important in understanding the processes governing a wide variety of aquatic situations. The specific environmental settings in which aquatic chemistry is important include:

  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Groundwaters/soil/water/air systems
  • Estuaries
  • Oceans
  • Sediments
  • water treatment
  • aerosols and hydrosols rain.”

Pankow, 1991


This is a graduate level course which assumes that you know basic chemistry concepts. Students are advised to take a refresher course here: (Links to an external site.)


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