Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017CO339B

The effect of wastewater effluent on soil and water chemistry along the South Platte River

Institute: Colorado
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $3,776 Total Non-Federal Funds: Not available

Principal Investigators: Sarah Schliemann

Abstract: Chloride, an ion of elemental chlorine, is a nutrient required in a small amount for a healthy ecosystem. However, in larger amounts it can be quite toxic and a strong oxidizer. High levels of chlorine as a negative effect on the health and reproduction rate of aquatic organisms and the metabolism of vegetation. Most chloride in an unaltered ecosystem comes from natural salts found in the soil. (Mitra, 2015, pp. 167-168). An exploratory analysis conducted in August found elevated levels of chloride in the ground in 2 of 3 sample sites around the confluence of Clear Creek and the South Platte River. The chloride is most likely coming from the effluent from nearby Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility operated by Metro Waste Water. This research attempts to understand better how the chloride levels affect the nearby ecosystems. Samples will be taken at sites along the South Platte River above and below the waste water facility. Additional samples will be taken at sample sites on Sand Creek and Clear Creek to be used as controls. At each location, soil and water samples will be gathered. The samples will be tested for nutrient levels, chloride levels, and heavy metals. Nutrient and chloride levels will be tested using a Hach D900 colorimeter, and heavy metal levels will be measured by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES). This research is important in understanding how chlorinated water effluent affects the local ecosystem downstream from wastewater treatment plants.