Navigation Links
Pittsburgh's leaky faucet: How aging sewers are impacting urban watersheds
Date:3/11/2013

PITTSBURGHAging sewer systems are spilling a considerable amount of nitrogen into urban watersheds, diminishing both the quality of water and ecosystems' habitats. However, many studies documenting the impacts of nitrogen on urban environs have not properly estimated the contribution of leaky sewer systemsuntil now.

Aging sewer systems are spilling a considerable amount of nitrogen into urban watersheds, diminishing both the quality of water and the ecosystems' habitats.

Using water samples from the Pittsburgh-based Nine Mile Run watershed, a Pitt research team reveals in the current issue of Environmental Science & Technology that an estimated 10 to 20 tons of reactive nitrogen from sewage flows into Pittsburgh's Monongahela River every year from the six-square-mile watershed. That means that up to 12 percent of all sewage produced by residents living in the Nine Mile Run watershed area leaks from the sewers and is transferred to the stream, negatively affecting stream water quality.

"This is a very complicated problem," said Marion Divers, principal author of the paper and a Pitt PhD candidate who conducted the study under the supervision of Pitt assistant professors of geology and planetary science Emily Elliott and Daniel Bain, who were coauthors of the paper. "You build a sewer system once, put it underground, and unless there's a catastrophic failure, you may not have a reason to dig it up and make sure it's not leaking. Now sewers across the United States and in Pittsburgh are aging, and as these systems grow older, more sewage is leaking into groundwater and streams."

While living organisms need nitrogen to build essential proteins, leaky sewer systems, the burning of fossil fuels, and overuse of chemical fertilizers have contributed to an overabundance of nitrogen in U.S. rivers and streams. Too much nitrogen can deplete the water of oxygen, with results as threatening as those seen in the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, where marine life doesn't have the oxygen necessary to live.

An estimated 10 to 20 tons of reactive nitrogen from sewage flows into Pittsburgh's Monongahela River every year from the Nine Mile Run watershed.

"Leaky sewers are simply not something most people are interested in until they begin to smell it in the stream or see things like a particular fish disappear from the stream," said Bain. "Based on the results from our Nine Mile Run study, this paper forces the wider urban ecology community to more carefully consider this sewage problem."

In order to accurately measure nitrogen's impact on Nine Mile Run, the Pitt team had to first determine how much was coming from leaky sewer systems. Over a two-year period, the researchers collected water samples biweekly from the small stream located in Pittsburgh's East End during both rainy and dry time periods with intensive sampling during one summer storm. Nitrogen concentrations were measured in the samples, and the researchers used this data to estimate sewage contributions to nitrogen in the stream's water. Notably, the results highlighted that sewers in this study basin are leaking consistently, even during dry weather conditions. While the apparent volumes of sewage are concerning, the study also reaffirms the substantial ability of urban systems to hold onto this nitrogen, despite the heavily impacted stream channel and the predominance of paved areas.

"This suggests a pervasive influence of leaking sewerseven during periods without rainfall. This is in addition to the raw sewage contributions during wet weather from combined sewer overflows that are currently the subject of mitigation efforts in Pittsburgh," said Elliott. "Our report highlights the importance of assessing nitrogen leakage from sewers into our waterways, particularly as sewer systems age across the United States."


'/>"/>

Contact: B. Rose Huber
rhuber@pitt.edu
412-624-4356
University of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Texas A&M research contributes to improved ultrasound imaging
2. P&G Beauty & Grooming to present advancements in skin aging & stress sweat at AAD Meeting
3. Invention opens the way to packaging that monitors food freshness
4. CellTrust SecureSMS PULSE Integrated to Santech Health for Secure Text Messaging of Biometrics and PHI will be Demonstrated at HIMSS 2013
5. Genome-wide imaging study identifies new gene associated with Alzheimers plaques
6. In the blink of an eye: X-ray imaging on the attosecond timescale
7. Elsevier announces the launch of a new journal: Journal of Forensic Radiology and Imaging
8. UT Arlington bioengineer to use hybrid imaging system to see deep tissue
9. Improved X-ray microscopic imaging
10. New modeling approach transforms imaging technologies
11. Imaging biomarker predicts response to rapid antidepressant
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/21/2016)... , Nov. 21, 2016   Neurotechnology , ... recognition technologies, today announced that the MegaMatcher On ... was submitted for the NIST Minutiae Interoperability ... all the mandatory steps of the evaluation protocol. ... a continuing test of fingerprint templates used to ...
(Date:11/16/2016)... , Nov. 16, 2016 Sensory Inc ... and security for consumer electronics, and VeriTran ... and retail industry, today announced a global partnership ... way to authenticate users of mobile banking and ... TrulySecure™ software which requires no specialized biometric ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... , Nov. 14, 2016  Based ... identification market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes FST ... Sullivan Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership. FST ... the biometric identification market by pioneering In ... solution for instant, seamless, and non-invasive verification. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)...  Renova™ Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing gene ... 2 diabetes, announced that it has obtained a ... vector developed in the laboratory of Professor ... The company plans to use this vector in ... "Early research has shown promise ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... Opal Kelly, a ... device-to-computer interconnect using USB or PCI Express, announced the FOMD-ACV-A4, the company's first ... a small, thin, SODIMM-style module that fits a standard 204-pin SODIMM socket for ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016  Anaconda BioMed S.L., ... development of the next generation neuro-thrombectomy system for the ... of Tudor G. Jovin, MD to join its Scientific ... as a strategic network of scientific and clinical experts ... development of the ANCD BRAIN ® to its ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... Microbial genomics ... Awards. uBiome is one of just six company finalists in the Health & ... to uBiome, companies nominated as finalists in this year’s awards include Google, SpaceX, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: