Study: The Influence of Wastewater Treatment Systems On Coastal Bays

Nova Biologicals’ Dr. Paul J. Pearce, Ph.D. recently participated in research with Baylor University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the Department of Environmental Science on emerging contaminants from waste sites in urban estuaries in south Texas. The team looked at tidal influences on aquatic contaminants, how onsite wastewater affected surface water quality, as well as other environmental assessments to examine water quality.   The study provides a diagnostic approach for future studies of water quality across rapidly urbanizing coastal bays. Click To Tweet

Tidal Influences on Water Quality

In the rapidly urbanizing watersheds and estuaries flowing to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, USA, instream flows are increasingly influenced by point source and nonpoint source discharges. Spatial and temporal tidal influences on water quality, especially for contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), is poorly understood in estuaries and coastal systems. We selected Dickinson Bayou, an urban estuary in Galveston County, Texas, for study because it has historically impaired water quality, receives point source discharge from one major wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), while also being influenced by high densities of onsite sewage facilities upstream in the watershed.

Exploring Potential Hazards

We explored the occurrence and potential hazards of aquatic contaminants, including nutrients, indicator bacteria for pathogens, and CECs, in relation to this point source discharge, across seasons and at high and low tides. Aquatic contaminants and associated hazards varied significantly in relation to the WWTP discharge and were influenced by onsite systems. In fact, spatiotemporal water quality varied by class of contaminants (e.g., nutrients, indicator bacteria, CECs), which indicates that traditional surface water monitoring activities should account for such environmental complexity.

Water Quality Challenges in Coastal Regions

Approximately 50% of the global population resides within 150 km of a coastline (Cohen et al., 1997). As a result of a growing and aging human population, water resource management is increasingly recognized as a major challenge in these rapidly urbanizing coastal regions.

Read the Full Study to learn more about what Dr. Paul J. Pearce and his fellow researchers found about wastewater treatment centers and aquatic hazards.

Contact us to learn more about this fascinating research by Dr. Paul J. Pearce and Baylor University.

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