Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015AZ541B

Impact of upgraded wastewater reclamation facilities on chemicals of emerging concern in the effluent-dependent Lower Santa Cruz River

Institute: Arizona
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $9,998 Total Non-Federal Funds: $21,613

Principal Investigators: David Quanrud, Shane Snyder

Abstract: The reliability of water supply to communities in Arizona and in other southwestern states is threatened by population growth and climate change. In future years, these communities will need to rely on water resources of impaired initial quality to balance supply and demand. Potable reuse of reclaimed water is an almost certainty in the future. Conventionally treated municipal wastewater contains an assortment of pharmaceuticals and personal care products along with a myriad of other contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) at sub-part-per-billion levels that are sometimes poorly attenuated during wastewater treatment. Pima County recently improved their two main municipal wastewater reclamation facilities (WRFs) that discharge treated effluent to the effluent-dependent Lower Santa Cruz River (SCR). Due to improved effluent quality, the river hydraulics have changed, with higher infiltration rates into the riverbed and a shortened wetted reach of the lower SCR. Resultant impacts of these changes on CEC loading rates to the SCR watershed, as well as impact on natural attenuation processes during surface transport are unknown. This project will begin to fill that void by examining the presence and fate of a large suite of CECs along the entire wetted reach of the Lower SCR. The impact of the upgraded WRFs on CECs in the Lower SCR will be evaluated by comparison of project generated data with results from previous investigations by the PIs on the Lower SCR. Project results will support larger grant requests from e.g. the NIWR 104g program to fully evaluate fate of CECs in all phases of concern including impacts to local groundwater quality and riverbed sediment sorption/desorption phenomena.