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Export of Dissolved Methane and Carbon Dioxide with Effluents from Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants



Export of Dissolved Methane and Carbon Dioxide with Effluents from Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants



Environmental Science and Technology 50(11): 5555-5563



Inland waters play an important role for regional and global scale carbon cycling and are significant sources of the atmospheric greenhouse gases methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Although most studies considered the input of terrestrially derived organic and inorganic carbon as the main sources for these emissions, anthropogenic sources have rarely been investigated. Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) could be additional sources of carbon by discharging the treated wastewater into the surrounding aquatic ecosystems. Here we analyze seasonally resolved measurements of dissolved CH4 and CO2 concentrations in effluents and receiving streams at nine WWTPs in Germany. We found that effluent addition significantly altered the physicochemical properties of the streamwater. Downstream of the WWTPs, the concentrations of dissolved CH4 and CO2 were enhanced and the atmospheric fluxes of both gases increased by a factor of 1.2 and 8.6, respectively. The CH4 exported with discharged effluent, however, accounted for only a negligible fraction (0.02%) of the estimated total CH4 emissions during the treatment process. The CH4 concentration in the effluent water was linearly related to the organic load of the wastewater, which can provide an empirical basis for future attempts to add WWTPs inputs to regional-scale models for inland water-carbon fluxes.

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Accession: 057840516

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27160023

DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b04923


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