Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014WV212B

Use of Chemical Signatures as Diagnostic Tools to Identify Bromide Contamination Sources

Institute: West Virginia
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $30,599 Total Non-Federal Funds: $61,198

Principal Investigators: Yongtian He, Joseph Donovan

Abstract: Bromide is a relatively new water quality issue in West Virginia. While there is no drinking water or aquatic life standard for bromide ion, there is a Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) standard of 80 g/L for disinfection byproducts such as trihalomethanes (THM) which include chlorinated and brominated methane compounds. It is believed that higher concentrations of bromide in a water treatment plant's feed water will result in higher THM concentrations. Thus, it is important to identify sources of bromide in drinking water sources. Preliminary work at the WVU Water Research Institute indicates that bromide tends to be associated with elevated chloride concentrations and, more loosely with total dissolved solids (TDS). Postulated sources of elevated bromide include agricultural runoff, coal mining, shale gas, or other human activities. Inability to identify contamination sources limits our ability to effect appropriate control measures. Therefore, developing a diagnostic tool to help identify the origin of bromide contamination is of great interest to the environmental regulators and public in general who are concerned with water quality and environmental issues. Previous studies show some chemical signatures (such as Cl/Br ratio) can be useful in identifying groundwater origin and movement. This study proposes to analyze the chemical signatures of different waste waters from energy industry, develop a diagnostic tool to identify origins of bromide contamination in receiving water body, and demonstrate the application of such a tool through case studies.