June 17 Research Spotlight
Title: Identifying Sources of Contaminants in Urban Stormwater and Evaluation of Their Removal Efficacy through Urban Best Management Practices
Presented by: Heiko L. Schoenfuss, Professor of Anatomy; Director, Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory, St. Cloud State University and Richard Kiesling, Hydrologist and Limnologist, USGS Upper Midwest Water Science Center
Precipitation events in urban areas often result in stormwater runoff containing a diverse array of chemical contaminants with recent evidence suggesting that these include trace organic compounds (TrOCs), including pharmaceuticals, personal care products and pesticides. We conducted a study to characterize sources of TrOCs and their potential contribution to groundwater through infiltration practices. Analysis of eDNA confirms multiple sources of TrOCs to stormwater including human sewage, dog waste, and feces from waterfowl. It is likely that the presence of some TrOCs detected in stormwater are the result of direct, untreated sewage inputs to stormwater from either human (i.e., leaking sewer infrastructure) or pet waste (washed from sidewalks into storm drains). The seasonal detection of avian eDNA highlights seasonality and patterns of migration as contributing factors to stormwater contamination. Stormwater ponds had little effect in reducing TrOCs as determined by comparative inflow and outflow analysis. Our results also indicate that overall few TrOCs were present in receiving groundwater adjacent to underground infiltration basins, compared to inflow. However, some contaminants were present at relatively high concentrations compared to stormwater flowing into the basins. This is particularly true for pesticides and their degradants. Fewer TrOCs were detected in interstitial water collected near stormwater ponds compared to inflow and outflow. The presence and concentrations of TrOCs in outflow from ponds was generally similar to or higher than what was observed in inflow. The data collected as part of this study can be used to guide future research or monitoring to better understand TrOC fate and transport in the environment via stormwater BMPs. Specifically, more work is needed to track parcels of water as they flow through BMPs to better quantify transport and degradation of TrOCs.
Schoenfuss: For the past 20 years and in over 130 publications, Dr. Schoenfuss, the director of the St. Cloud State University Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory, has focused his research on the effects of contaminants of emerging concern on aquatic ecosystems. He has led research projects to improve aquatic life across the United States and abroad and is currently a principal investigator of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. He has successfully advised 37 graduate students in the past 20 years and is an associate editor for Environment Toxicology & Chemistry (SETAC) and the journal Water. Dr. Schoenfuss is the past chair of the SETAC World Council Endocrine Disruptor Testing and Risk Assessment Steering Committee, has served on the EPA Science Advisory Board, on a National Institute of Environmental Health review committee, and the MN Department of Health Advisory Board.
Kiesling: Dr. Kiesling is currently a Hydrologist and Limnologist with the USGS Upper Midwest Water Science Center. He received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. in limnology from the University of Michigan. His current research includes studies of the effects of climate change and contaminants on lake ecosystem metabolism and the effects of land use and hydrologic modifications on nutrient fate and transport in aquatic ecosystems. His primary interest in this work is linking stressor gradients with biological response models. Dr. Kiesling’s areas of expertise include aquatic food web ecology, surface water hydrology, and phytoplankton population biology. His profile is available on ResearchGate, Google Scholar, and at the USGS staff page website.