Algal bioassays detect modeled loading of wastewater-derived nitrogen in coastal waters of O'AHU, HAWAI'I.


Department of Botany, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 3190 Maile Way, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 96822, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


Previous studies indicate coastlines are at risk of wastewater contamination from injection wells, cesspools, and septic systems. In this study, common marine algae were used to ground-truth modeled loading of wastewater-derived N to coastlines of O'ahu, Hawai'i. Macroalgae were collected and/or deployed at 118 sites and analyzed for tissue δ15N and N %. Wastewater source locations were used to estimate wastewater-derived N in groundwater with the modeling software MT3DMS/MODFLOW. Algal bioassays identified six coastal regions subjected to elevated wastewater-derived N loading. In a case study, submarine groundwater discharge (estimated by 222Rn mass balance) was related to wastewater loading from onsite sewage disposal systems (OSDS) and municipal wastewater injection wells in Waimānalo. The highest 222Rn-derived SGD rate and N flux were 21.4 m3/m/d and 62.6 g/m/d, respectively. The results of this study suggest that OSDS and injection wells discharge substantial volumes of wastewater and N across broad regions of coastal O'ahu.



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