A screening level fate model of organic contaminants from advanced water treatment in a potable water supply reservoir

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Hawker, Darryl W
Cumming, Janet L
Neale, Peta A
Bartkow, Michael E
Escher, Beate I
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Augmentation of potable water sources by planned indirect potable reuse of wastewater is being widely considered to address growing water shortages. Environmental buffers such as lakes and dams may act as one of a series of barriers to potable water contamination stemming from micropollutants in wastewater. In South-East Queensland, Australia, current government policy is to begin indirect potable reuse of water from reverse osmosis equipped advanced water treatment plants (AWTPs) when the combined capacity of its major storages is at 40% capacity. A total of 15 organic contaminants including NDMA and bisphenol A have been publically reported as detected in recycled water from one of South-East Queensland's AWTPs, while another 98 chemicals were analysed for, but found to be below their detection limit. To assess the natural attenuation in Lake Wivenhoe, a Level III fugacity based evaluative fate model was constructed using the maximum concentrations of these contaminants detected as input data. A parallel aquivalence based model was constructed for those contaminants, such as dichloroacetic acid, dalapon and triclopyr, which are ionised in the environment of Lake Wivenhoe. A total of 247 organic chemicals of interest, including disinfection by-products, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, xenoestrogens and industrial chemicals, were evaluated with the model to assess their potential for natural attenuation. Out of the 15 detected chemicals, trihalomethanes are expected to volatilise with concentrations in the outflow from the dam approximately 400 times lower than influent from the AWTPs. Transformation processes in water are likely to be more significant for NDMA and pharmaceuticals such as salicylic acid and paracetamol as well as for caffeine and the herbicides dalapon and triclopyr. For hydrophobic contaminants such as cholesterol and phenolic xenoestrogens such as 4-nonylphenol, 4-t-octylphenol and bisphenol A, equilibrium between water and sediments will not be attained and hence fate processes such as removal in outflow are predicted to become relatively important.

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Water Research

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