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Great Falls of the Passaic River at Paterson, N.J

Great Falls of the Passaic River at Paterson, N.J.

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Unregulated Contaminants in WWTPs

Project Title: Unregulated Contaminants in WWTPs
Project Number: LJ00DSF
Project Chief:
Project Start Date: 01-MAY-2009
Project End Date: 30-NOV-2011

Project Objectives

The primary objective of the study is to perform a reconnaissance survey of 8 to 10 WWTPs to determine if there are differences in OWC detection frequencies and concentrations at plants receiving different amounts of influent water from domestic and industrial or commercial sources. A secondary consideration of the study is to determine if some OWCs are more likely to adsorb to sediments during treatment than others. Specific tasks for the study include:

  • Measuring concentrations of OWCs in water entering and leaving 8 to 10 WWTPs with a variety of domestic and commercial or industrial inputs.
  • Measuring concentrations of OWCs in residuals (sludge) from the same treatment plants.
  • Reporting the data.

Statement of Problem

Although the occurrence of OWCs in streams can be related in part to discharges from WWTPs it is uncertain whether the sources of these compounds are domestic waste, or waste from manufacturing or other commercial processes. Furthermore, it is unclear if different treatment processes may be more effective at removing OWCs than others. A study of seven WWTPs in New York by Phillips and others (2005) indicated that concentrations of some pharmaceutically active compounds are elevated at some WWTPs, and that substantial differences exist among wastewater treatment plants with regard to concentrations of OWCs in discharges. These differences may be related to plant technology, plant operation, and characteristics of plant influents - which in turn depend on the types of inputs within the area serviced by the wastewater plant. As NJDEP continues to invest in plant upgrades and considers methods for limiting discharges of OWCs, data from the proposed study will provide invaluable information about the effects of WWTP upgrades on the transport of trace organic contaminants to the States streams and water supplies.

Strategy and Approach

The objectives of this reconnaissance survey will be met by collecting samples of water and residuals from approximately 10 WWTPs at three locations in each plant (influent water, effluent water, and sludge residuals). A total of about 30 environmental samples will be collected. The 20 water samples will be analyzed for approximately 130 select OWCs (table 1). The 10 sediment samples will be analyzed for a similar range of compounds. Samples will be collected once at each plant during a 3 month period.

NJDEP in consultation with USGS will select the WWTPs to be sampled based on a range of domestic, commercial, and industrial inputs to the treatment plants. DEP will obtain permission from WWTP operators for USGS to sample, provide contact information, and provide information on treatment processes and estimated sources of water (domestic/industrial) at each treatment plant.

Once sampling is completed USGS will conduct analyses to determine if the numbers, types, and concentrations of OWCs detected in water at the various WWTPs are different, and if those differences can be attributed to relative percentages of domestic or industrial sources. Analysis of the residual data will determine which OWCs are more likely to adsorb to the sediments. If the sampled WWTPs have different treatment processes, analyses will also be conducted to identify treatment plants that are more effective at removing OWCs.

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