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:3/23/2017)... , March 23, 2017 The report "Gesture Recognition and ... Industry, and Geography - Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market ... CAGR of 29.63% between 2017 and 2022. Continue ... ... ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 21, 2017 Vigilant Solutions , ... law enforcement agencies, announced today the appointment of retired ... of public safety business development. Mr. Sheridan ... experience, including a focus on the aviation transportation sector, ... recent position, Mr. Sheridan served as the Aviation Liaison ...
(Date:3/13/2017)... -- Future of security: Biometric Face Matching software  ... ... Face Matching enables to match face pictures against each other or against large ... Identification Systems) ... is the fastest software for biometric Face Matching on the market. The speed ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... ... Cambridge Semantics , the leading provider of Big Data management and analytics ... in Boston May 23-25 with a featured speaker and solution demos of its ... also a finalist for the Best of Show award. , James LaPointe, Managing Director ...
(Date:5/21/2017)... ... May 19, 2017 , ... Ovation Fertility ... the American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB) and the College of Reproductive Biology (CRB) ... reinforces AAB’s commitment to excellence in clinical laboratory services and regulations. , ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... May 18, 2017 , ... Lajollacooks4u has added another ... a two-hour team-building package designed for groups of 10-30 people. Guests can ... include items, such as Blackened Shrimp with Edamame Salad, Pizza Rolls with Pepperoni ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... May 17, 2017 , ... ... optimization firm for the life sciences and healthcare industries, is honored that ... for Medical Devices conference in Brussels, Belgium. , Crowley played a crucial role ...
Breaking Biology Technology: