Dr. Christopher Spiese, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Dr. Bryan Boulanger from Civil Engineering at the Ohio Northern University completed an Ohio Water Resources Center funded project via joined USGS 104(b) and OWDA grant. Their project titled “Rural On-site Waste Treatment as a Source of Nutrients to a Eutrophic Watershed” will determine the extent to which residential on-site wastewater treatment in rural watersheds are source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and pathogenic bacteria. Identification of sources of nutrients into Lake Erie tributaries is critical for understanding how to control these loadings and ultimately maintain a long-term oligotrophic status in the Lake.
At six sites across Putnam County, Ohio, tile drainage water was sampled over the course of four months (Figure 1). Caffeine was found at all of the sites with mean ± standard deviation concentrations ranging from non-detect at the control site to 0.74±1.1.4 μg/L in tile drainage effluents from sites having on-site wastewater systems. Because nitrogen is a large component of human waste, there was a significant positive relationship between nitrate and caffeine. Caffeine and total phosphorus on the other hand had a significant negative correlation. The study results are interesting, because the observed caffeine-total phosphorous correlation indicates that septic effluents are not significant contributors to phosphorus loadings within the rural watershed, but may contribute to nitrogen loadings. Additionally, commonalities in nutrient fingerprints (total and speciated phosphorous and nitrogen) in groundwater and tile drainage highlight the complex relationships for nutrient and water quality management in irrigation drainage waters. Groundwater from a nearby well indicated a mean total phosphorous 0.39 mg P/L. A mean phosphorous tile drain concentration for the entire study was determined to be 0.4±0.07 mg P/L. Taken together, our results indicate that efforts to improve or replace septic systems with an aim toward mitigating phosphorus pollution may be misguided or at least less effective than anticipated.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Christopher Spiese is an environmental chemist and biogeochemist. His research area is an interdisciplinary program that incorporates chemistry, biology, geology, and limnology, but his main focus in on sulfur and phosphorus. He currently has projects examining the role of marine phytoplankton in the production of methylated sulfur compounds, the permeability of these compounds across cell membranes as well as project aimed at developing new methods for dissolved phosphorus analysis and water quality in the Blanchard River.
Kristin Jaeger and Mazeika Sullivan interviewed about their river restoration research by Columbus Dispatch
Wondering if your well water is safe?
The RFP for FY 2014 was announced
The intent is to improve water quality and support community revitalization in Eligible Geographic Areas.
Ohio Water Resources Center Associate Director Zuzana Bohrerova leads the Shale Environmental Management Research Cluster at OSU
417A Hitchcock Hall Associate Professor lenhart [dot] 49 [at] osu [dot] edu 614-688-8157 Associate Professor, Civil, Envir & Geod Eng
417E Hitchcock Hall Professor weavers [dot] 1 [at] osu [dot] edu 614-292-4061 Professor, Civil, Envir & Geod Eng
Professor, Earth Sciences
311 Hitchcock Hall Associate Director bohrerova [dot] 1 [at] osu [dot] edu 614-292-2807 Research Specialist, Ohio Water Resources Center