Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2006NV104B

Microbial and Phytoplankton Impacts on Endocrine Disrupting Contaminants: Las Vegas Wash and Lake Mead, NV

Institute: Nevada
Year Established: 2006 Start Date: 2006-03-01 End Date: 2009-12-31
Total Federal Funds: $53,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $106,417

Principal Investigators: Duane Moser

Abstract: Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are an emerging environmental contaminant class of special concern. Among the most bioactive are synthetic hormone pharmaceuticals (e.g. oral contraceptives), varying degrees of which are eliminated from the body unaltered and unaffected by wastewater treatment. Troubling phenomena, ranging from reproductive impairment in wildlife, to low sperm counts, precocious puberty, and reproductive cancers in humans have been attributed to these compounds. Only recently has it become known that microorganisms metabolize EDCs, mediating processes including biodegradation, bioaccumulation, and deconjugative activation. Organisms at the bottom of the food web may thus the control the fate, persistence, and activity of agents whose greatest impacts are at the highest trophic levels. The Las Vegas Wash, in essence a river composed of treated wastewater, represents a unique laboratory for the controlled investigation of wastewater transformations post-release. The proposed study addresses both practical and fundamental aspects of EDC microbiology, utilizing this unique resource and USGS monitoring platforms in Las Vegas Bay and Boulder Basin. A culture collection of EDC-degraders will be developed to identify the major environmental contributors to these processes. Pure cultures and mixed consortia will be studied to determine the major pathways of, and conditions favoring EDC degradation. This work coordinates with ongoing SNPLMA-funded USGS and USFWS research. These agencies will provide a contextual basis, as well as analytical and material support. The effects on contaminant fate from the planned redirection of treated wastewater into the Bolder Basin hypolimnion will be a priority. This work is designed to support a joint USGS/USFWS/DRI proposal to SNPLMA Round 7, incorporates a strong educational component, will inform the activities of water quality professionals, coordinates with DRI researchers in two divisions, and solidifies a new relationship between DRI and two federal agencies.