Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016MS206B

Wastewater Management in Mississippi Coastal Communities

Institute: Mississippi
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $25,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $98,861

Principal Investigators: Veera Gnaneswar Gude, James Martin

Abstract: About 11% of the surface water streams in Mississippi coastal region received fair or poor ratings indicating possible point or non-point source pollution loads into these surface streams. The Jourdan River watershed is designated as a priority watershed for improving the water quality in this region. Primary water quality concerns for the Jourdan River have been identified as faulty septic and wastewater systems, sediment from soil and stream bank erosion and nutrient enrichment. This research project will evaluate the feasibility of current on-site wastewater treatment systems for decentralized communities in the coastal region of Mississippi where the effluent standards might be at risk. The investigation will include assessment of effectiveness of current wastewater treatment approaches from the surface and ground water quality and economic feasibility perspectives. This research aims to identify other appropriate and promising low-cost and effective nutrient removal alternatives for on-site wastewater treatment systems that are out of compliance in the Jourdan River watershed area of Mississippi coastal region. The project will identify representative sites in the watershed and evaluate the existing on-site wastewater treatment systems. Effluent quality data, if available, will be gathered from Mississippi department of health (MSDH) and Mississippi department of environmental quality (MDEQ) and will be analyzed for any significant issues in compliance with USEPA standards for on-site disposal. Where data is not available, a sample collection and analysis program will be initiated for representative sites to measure pH, temperature, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS), total nitrogen (TN including TKN), nitrates and nitrites, and total phosphorous (TP) and fecal coliform bacteria. Established methods will be used to measure these constituents in the wastewater effluents from the select representative sites at designated time intervals to represent dry and wet weather and cold and hot weather conditions and different sub-surface conditions. This information will be utilized to determine the feasibility of on-site wastewater treatment systems and estimate nutrient loads released through effluent discharges. Nitrogen fingerprinting method will be used to identify the origin and sources and forms of nitrogen that may have detrimental impacts on the watershed. Information gathered through the above activities will be used to suggest sustainable (including environmental, energy and socio-economic) alternatives for the decentralized communities in the Jourdan River watershed. Expected outcomes from this project will include (i) a compilation of data on current on-site, decentralized and centralized wastewater treatment facilities in the Jourdan River watershed and characterization of wastewater management practices for the coastal region; (ii) analysis of effluent quality data for representative sites and assess performance of on-site wastewater treatment systems; and (iii) a sample collection and analysis program where effluent quality data is not available to assess the effectiveness of wastewater treatment systems at representative sites and provide alternative solutions for efficient and cost-effective wastewater treatment solutions for nutrient removal from wastewater. This research project will support/train graduate and undergraduate students in the department of civil and environmental engineering and will provide mastery over comprehensive environmental analysis and evaluation of sustainable design alternatives. This research is expected to result in findings that would fuel an interest and form a platform for creating a water-nutrient management consortium to address these complex issues of MS coastal regions in a comprehensive manner.