State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008NE168B
Title: Fate of microcontaminants in streams augmented by wastewater treatment plant effluent use
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: 1st district
Focus Categories: Toxic Substances, Wastewater, Water Quality
Keywords: microcontaminants, effluent, fate, transport
Principal Investigators: Bartelt-Hunt, Shannon ; Snow, Daniel
Federal Funds: $ 15,800
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 31,762
Abstract: In the Great Plains Region, existing surface water resources are limited. Demands for drinking water and irrigation exert pressure on an already over-allocated water supply system. Demands on water in the region are only projected to increase, resulting in a need to identify alternatives for stream augmentation and to support aquatic habitat. One proposed alternative is to use treated wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent to augment surface water resources, however, there are many uncertainties associated with this practice. The presence of microcontaminants such as pharmaceuticals and hormones in WWTP effluent has been well documented (Kolpin et al 2002 and others). Although the presence of these microcontaminants has been well-established, there is limited information available on the fate of these contaminants in the receiving water body. Information on the dominant fate and transport processes for microcontaminants within the receiving water body is important for predicting the impacts of WWTP effluent augmentation on aquatic organisms.

In recent years, there have been many developments in passive sampling technologies for low-level organic contaminants. Passive samplers are novel assessment tools that provide several advantages over traditional grab sampling techniques (Alvarez et al. 2005). Many passive samplers are integrative samplers that can be deployed for extended time periods allowing for the determination of time-weighted mean concentrations of chemicals. In addition, they permit sampling of large water volumes necessary for the analysis of sub-ppb levels of environmental contaminants. Although many passive sampling technologies are currently available, there is a need to identify a low-cost passive sampling device for measuring environmentally-relevant concentrations of microcontaminants such as pharmaceuticals, hormones and personal care products.

The overall goal of this study is to evaluate the fate and transport characteristics of selected WWTP microcontaminants using a low-cost passive sampling technology in order to evaluate the impacts of treated WWTP effluent on water quality of receiving water bodies.

Final Report, 2009, PDF

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