Fate of organic micropollutants in the hyporheic zone of a eutrophic lowland stream: Results of a preliminary field study

  • Lewandowski J
  • Putschew A
  • Schwesig D
 et al. 
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Many rivers and streams worldwide are impacted by pharmaceuticals
originating from sewage. The hyporheic zone underlying streams is often
regarded as reactive bioreactor with the potential for eliminating such
sewage-born micropollutants. The present study aims at checking the
elimination potential and analyzing the coupling of hydrodynamics,
biogeochemistry and micropollutant processing. To this end, two sites at
the lowland stream Erpe, which receives a high sewage burden, were
equipped and sampled with nested piezometers. From temperature depth
profiles we determined that at one of the sites infiltration of surface
water into the aquifer occurs while exfiltration dominates at the other
site. Biogeochemical data reveal intense mineralization processes and
strictly anoxic conditions in the streambed sediments at both sites.
Concentrations of the pharmaceuticals indomethacin, diclofenac,
ibuprofen, bezafibrate, ketoprofen, naproxen and clofibric acid were
high in the surface water and also in the subsurface at the infiltrating
site. The evaluation of the depth profiles indicates some attenuation
but due to varying surface water composition the evaluation of
subsurface processes is quite complex. Borate and non-geogenic
gadolinium were measured as conservative wastewater indicators. To
eliminate the influence of fluctuating sewage proportions in the surface
water, micropollutant concentrations are related to these indicators.
The indicators can cope with different dilutions of the sewage but not
with temporally varying sewage composition. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All
rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Pharmaceuticals; Ibuprofen; Hyporheic zone; Self-p

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  • Joerg Lewandowski

  • Anke Putschew

  • David Schwesig

  • Christiane Neumann

  • Michael Radke

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