Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Environmental Science & Technology
The goal of this study was to investigate three potential ways that the soluble organic nitrogen (N) fraction of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents, termed effluent organic N (EON), could contribute to coastal eutrophication - direct biological removal, photochemical release of labile compounds, and salinity-mediated release of ammonium (NH4+). Effluents from two WWTPs were used in the experiments. For the bioassays, EON was added to water from four salinities (similar to 0 to 30) collected from the James River (VA) in August 2008, and then concentrations of N and phosphorus compounds were measured periodically over 48 h. Bioassay results, based on changes in DON concentrations, indicate that some fraction of the EON was removed and that the degree of EON removal varied between effluents and with salinity. Further, we caution that bioassay results should be interpreted within a broad context of detailed information on chemical characterization. EON from both WWTPs was also photoreactive, with labile NH4+ and dissolved primary amines released during exposure to sunlight. We also present the first data that demonstrate that when EON is exposed to higher salinities, increasing amounts of NH4+ are released, further facilitating EON use as effluent transits from freshwater through estuaries to the coast.
Activated-Sludge Treatment; N-15 Tracer Method; Waste-Water; Chesapeake Bay; Matter; Phytoplankton; Seawater
Bronk, DA; Roberts, QN; Sanderson, MP; Canuel, EA; Hatcher, PG; and Et al., Effluent Organic Nitrogen (EON): Bioavailability and Photochemical and Salinity-Mediated Release (2010). Environmental Science & Technology, 44(15), 5830-5835.