[Pharmwaste] Sprayfield eliminate pharmaceuticals

Tenace, Laurie Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
Thu Jun 28 13:52:03 EDT 2007


Hi all,

Here is some information from a USGS study still being completed right here
in Tallahassee. I spoke today with our City Water Quality Manager, Jamie
Shakar (850-891-1207), who said this study is unique and innovative and
agreed that the results are exciting - our sprayfield is eliminating
pharmaceuticals from the water that travels from it to a first magnitude
spring, Wakulla Springs, which is located about 20 miles south of the city
(http://www.floridastateparks.org/wakullasprings/default.cfm - this is where
the classic movie "Creature From the Black Lagoon" was filmed).

The report is not finalized, but the following is some background
information:

 SUBJECT/TITLE: City of Tallahassee/US Geological Survey Study Findings on
Groundwater Impacts from Southeast Farm, Septic Tanks, and Other Sources 

Statement Of Issue
On January 28, 2004, the City of Tallahassee Commission approved a joint
three-year study with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on the fate
of treated wastewater applied at the Southeast Spray Field (SESF). The
purpose of the study was to obtain data on groundwater movement and the fate
of nitrate concentrations in the aquifer so that the City could assess the
possible impact of the SESF.  This study, as well as a corresponding
dye/tracer study conducted by a consultant for Florida Department of
Environmental Protection (FDEP) showed that there was a link between the
city's Sprayfield Facility and Wakulla Springs.  Based upon this scientific
evidence the City committed to $160 million in improvements to enhance its
treatment to advanced wastewater treatment, which significantly reduces the
amount of nitrogen in wastewater.  A computer model developed as part of the
study predicts the City's contribution of nitrates at Wakulla Springs will be
reduced by more than half after advanced wastewater treatment is implemented
in six years.  In fact, at that point, the nitrogen loading from septic tanks
will exceed those from the SESF.  
In addition to nitrogen, more than 260 other chemicals were analyzed.  These
chemicals included pharmaceuticals and personal care products that in other
areas of the country are contributing to poor water quality.  The study
indicates that almost all of these chemicals were removed through the
Sprayfield process.  These results bode well for the city and area citizens,
in that through the use of the Southeast Farm and its Sprayfield process, the
City is already significantly addressing an issue that is garnering concerns
in other communities across the country.  Staff from the USGS will present
their research findings from the study at the workshop.  

SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL/Issue Analysis
History/facts & Issues
The City of Tallahassee Water Utility uses land application as a means of
disposing of secondary-treated wastewater effluent.  The combined effluent
from the T.P. Smith and the Lake Bradford Wastewater Treatment Plants is
pumped to storage ponds at the City's Southeast Sprayfield Facility on Tram
Road and then re-pumped from the ponds to irrigate various non-edible food
crops, particularly Coastal Bermuda grass that is used as hay feed. 
The Sprayfield Facility is an extension of the treatment process, removing
additional nutrients and other possible contaminates before the treated
wastewater enters the groundwater system. Not all of the nutrients are
removed in the process. The Utility is required by its wastewater operating
permit to monitor groundwater levels for various parameters. 
The joint City/ USGS study was approved by the Tallahassee City Commission on
January 28, 2004, at a cost to the city of $300,000.  It was prompted over
concerns that the Southeast Sprayfield was one of the major contributors of
nitrate to Wakulla Springs, and was implemented to address the Commission's
directive that changes to the city's processes should be based upon valid
scientific evidence.  Elevated nitrate levels in the Springs are believed to
contribute to invasive weed and plant growth, negatively impacting the
Springs.  The study evaluated several sources of nitrogen including the
Southeast Sprayfield, septic tank discharge, atmospheric deposition,
fertilizer, streams and sinkholes. 
During the three-year study ten additional monitoring wells were installed
south of the Sprayfield to better understand water quality in the area and to
evaluate ground water movement.  Water quality testing and water level
measurements were conducted quarterly and provided valuable information.  The
USGS also modeled groundwater movement and projected changes in groundwater
quality, as proposed changes in treatment plant efficiency were placed
on-line.
This study, as well as a corresponding dye/tracer study conducted by a
consultant for FDEP showed that there was a link between the city's
Sprayfield Facility and Wakulla Springs.  Based upon this scientific evidence
the City committed to $160 million in improvements to enhance its treatment
to advanced wastewater treatment, which significantly reduces the amount of
nitrogen in wastewater.  A computer model developed as part of the study
indicates that the treated wastewater application at the SESF contributes
between 34 to 56% of the nitrate loading at Wakulla Springs. This range
varies depending on seasonal changes including rainfall, ambient temperature
and nitrogen removal through crop rotation. 
Most significantly, the model was also used to determine the City's
contribution after the nitrate reductions are achieved following completion
of the advanced wastewater treatment improvements in six years.  The 
model predicts a reduction in contribution by more than half, or between 15
-25 % of the total contribution. Other sources of nitrogen studied include
septic tanks, atmospheric deposition, surface waters, fertilizers, and
livestock.  In fact, the cumulative septic tank contributions will then
exceed the nitrogen loading from the SESF.  
In addition to nitrogen, more than 260 other chemicals were analyzed.  These
chemicals included pharmaceuticals and personal care products that in other
areas of the country are contributing to poor water quality.  The study
indicates that almost all of these chemicals were removed through the
Sprayfield process.  These results bode well for the city and area citizens
in that through the use of the Southeast Farm and its Sprayfield process, the
city is already addressing an issue that is garnering concerns in other
communities across the country.

http://www.talgov.com/commission/meetings/agendas/070627/13.html


Laurie J. Tenace
Environmental Specialist
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Road, MS 4555
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400
PH: (850) 245-8759
FAX: (850) 245-8811
Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us 

Mercury web pages:
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/mercury/default.htm

Unwanted Medications web pages:
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/medications/default.htm




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