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Wastewater effluent, combined sewer overflows, and other sources of organic compounds to Lake Champlain

January 1, 2009

Abstract: Some sources of organic wastewater compounds (OWCs) to streams, lakes, and estuaries, including wastewater‐treatment‐plant effluent, have been well documented, but other sources, particularly wet‐weather discharges from combined‐sewer‐overflow (CSO) and urban runoff, may also be major sources of OWCs. Samples of wastewater‐treatment‐plant (WWTP) effluent, CSO effluent, urban streams, large rivers, a reference (undeveloped) stream, and Lake Champlain were collected from March to August 2006. The highest concentrations of many OWCs associated with wastewater were in WWTP‐effluent samples, but high concentrations of some OWCs in samples of CSO effluent and storm runoff from urban streams subject to leaky sewer pipes or CSOs were also detected. Total concentrations and numbers of compounds detected differed substantially among sampling sites. The highest total OWC concentrations (10‐100 μg/l) were in samples of WWTP and CSO effluent. Total OWC concentrations in samples from urban streams ranged from 0.1 to 10 μg/l, and urban stream‐stormflow samples had higher concentrations than baseflow samples because of contributions of OWCs from CSOs and leaking sewer pipes. The relations between OWC concentrations in WWTP‐effluent and those in CSO effluent and urban streams varied with the degree to which the compound is removed through normal wastewater treatment. Concentrations of compounds that are highly removed during normal wastewater treatment [including caffeine, Tris(2‐butoxyethyl)phosphate, and cholesterol] were generally similar to or higher in CSO effluent than in WWTP effluent (and ranged from around 1 to over 10 μg/l) because CSO effluent is untreated, and were higher in urban‐stream stormflow samples than in baseflow samples as a result of CSO discharge and leakage from near‐surface sources during storms. Concentrations of compounds that are poorly removed during treatment, by contrast, are higher in WWTP effluent than in CSO, due to dilution. Results indicate that CSO effluent and urban stormwaters can be a significant major source of OWCs entering large water bodies such as Burlington Bay.

Publication Year 2009
Title Wastewater effluent, combined sewer overflows, and other sources of organic compounds to Lake Champlain
DOI 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2008.00288.x
Authors P. Phillips, A. Chalmers
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Index ID 70032978
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program