Long-term (2010–19) water-quality monitoring on the Colorado River downstream from Moab Utah indicated the persistent presence of Bioactive Chemicals (BC), such as pesticides and pharmaceuticals. This stream reach near Canyonlands National Park provides critical habitat for federally endangered species. The Moab wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) outfall discharges to the Colorado River and is the nearest potential point-source to this reach. The original WWTP was replaced in 2018. In 2016–19, a study was completed to determine if the new plant reduced BC input to the Colorado River at, and downstream from, the outfall. Water samples were collected before and after the plant replacement at sites upstream and downstream from the outfall. Samples were analyzed for as many as 243 pesticides, 109 pharmaceuticals, 20 hormones, 51 wastewater indicator chemicals, 20 metals, and 8 nutrients. BC concentrations, hazard quotients (HQs), and exposure activity ratios (EARs) were used to identify and prioritize contaminants for their potential to have adverse biological effects on the health of native and endangered wildlife. There were 22 BC with HQs >1, mostly metals and hormones; and 23 BC with EARs >0.1, mostly hormones and pharmaceuticals. Most high HQs or EARs were associated with samples collected at the WWTP outfall site prior to its replacement. Discharge from the new plant had reduced concentrations of nutrients, hormones, pharmaceuticals, and other BC. For example, all 16 of the hormones detected at the WWTP outfall site had maximum concentrations in samples collected prior to the WWTP replacement. The WWTP replacement had less effect on instream concentrations of metals and pesticides, BC whose sources are less directly tied to domestic wastewater. Study results indicate that improved WWTP technology can create substantial reductions in concentrations of non-regulated BC such as pharmaceuticals, in addition to regulated contaminants such as nutrients.
|Title||Changes in chemical occurrence, concentration, and bioactivity in the Colorado River before and after replacement of the Moab, Utah wastewater treatment plant|
|Authors||William A. Battaglin, Paul Bradley, Rebbecca Weissinger, Brett R. Blackwell, Jenna E. Cavallin, Daniel L. Villeneuve, Laura A. DeCicco, Julie Kinsey|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Science of the Total Environment|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Colorado Water Science Center|