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SFS Annual Meeting

2021 Detailed Schedule

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A FOUNDATION FOR INTEGRATED WATER AND SPECIES POLICY: WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT EFFLUENT OVERLAPS WILDLIFE IN CALIFORNIA WATERSHEDS [Oral Presentation]

Anna Cassady (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of California, Riverside, acass005@ucr.edu;

Abstract: The spread of human settlement has imperiled fresh waterbodies; however, it has also led to the generation of novel water conservation strategies, including the reuse of treated wastewater, or effluent. Effluent reuse is an increasingly common aspect of watershed management, and thus far, research on effluent has been concentrated on its effects to water quality and efforts to describe effects to wildlife species have been relatively piecemealed. In this study, we evaluate the overlap between wastewater treatment plants and federal and California state-listed endangered and threatened wildlife species in order to present a holistic view of the intersection of effluent and species management and the potential need for effluent considerations in species conservation. We show that there is substantial overlap between the presence of species and the presence of treatment plants in California watersheds, and with this overlap, a large potential for unintended consequences. As such, species conservation goals should be considered when making decisions related to effluent reuse.

ASSESSING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN PATTERNS OF SEPTIC TANK MAINTENANCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABLES IN ATHENS-CLARKE COUNTY, GEORGIA, USA [Oral Presentation]

Kyle Connelly (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of Georgia, kyle.connelly@uga.edu;

Nandita Gaur (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Georgia, nandita.gaur@uga.edu;

Jacob McDonald (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of North Georgia at Gainesville, jacob.mcdonald@ung.edu;

Krista Capps (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Georgia, kcapps@uga.edu;

Abstract: Approximately 20 percent of the population in the United States uses an onsite wastewater treatment system. Conventional subsurface septic systems (SSs) are a common onsite wastewater treatment option as they offer an affordable alternative to sewer network expansion. However, little is known about what influences SS maintenance or failure rates. Poorly sited or inadequately maintained SSs can be a source of pathogenic and nutrient pollution, and regular upkeep is paramount to ensuring SSs remain functional. Yet, recommended SS pumping intervals are inconsistently followed because SSs are usually located on private land. Consequently, guidelines rely on voluntary SS owner participation. Therefore, a better understanding of what factors drive SS maintenance and repairs is needed to reduce risks to communities, guide management, and protect waterways. To address these challenges, this project explored relationships between spatio-temporal SS characteristics and county-level SS maintenance records from Athens-Clarke County, Georgia to isolate the attributes of pumped and repaired SSs. We then used those relationships to estimate the performance of SSs without maintenance records. This analysis helps elucidate where and when SSs may fail and can aid decision makers in equitably prioritizing wastewater infrastructure investments and policies.

NON-POINT SOURCE HUMAN FECAL CONTAMINATION AS A MAJOR SOURCE OF ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE IN U.S. SURFACE WATERS [Oral Presentation]

Elizabeth Ottesen (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of Georgia, ottesen@uga.edu;

Abstract: Surface waters have been identified as potential hotspots for the movement of antibiotic resistance (AR) genes between bacteria of human, animal, and environmental sources. However, disputes remain regarding the relative contribution of agricultural runoff vs. wastewater treatment failure. In a five-year study of streams in and around Athens, Georgia in the United States, we examined the link between six AR genes and human, ruminant and poultry fecal source markers. We found that all three fecal source markers were associated with higher numbers and concentrations of AR genes. However, a highly significant, linear relationship was observed between the human fecal marker and the AR genes. While sites downstream of wastewater treatment plants were enriched in antibiotic resistance markers, high levels of human fecal markers and antibiotic resistance genes were detected in multiple streams that were not downstream of any known wastewater treatment plant outfalls. This contamination was associated with watersheds that had high sewer density, suggesting that it originates from leaking wastewater infrastructure. This suggests that sewer leaks and damaged/failing wastewater infrastructure may be an important but overlooked source of AR bacteria and AR genes into U.S. surface waters.

OCCURRENCE AND BIOACCUMULATION OF WASTEWATER-BASED CHEMICALS IN FRESHWATER CRAYFISH AND ESTUARINE OYSTERS OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY WATERSHED [Oral Presentation]

Anne Timm (Primary Presenter/Author)
USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, anne.l.timm@usda.gov;

Ke He (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, kehe1@umbc.edu;

Ethan Hain (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, ethan6@umbc.edu;

Lee Blaney (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, blaney@umbc.edu;

Mitch Tarnowski (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Maryland Department of Natural Resources, mitch.tarnowski@maryland.gov;

Abstract: The occurrence of estrogenic hormones from natural and synthetic sources and ultraviolet-filters (UV-filters) from personal care products in wastewater are a growing concern for potential effects on aquatic ecosystems. These chemicals have endocrine disrupting properties that may cause decreased reproductive success in aquatic organisms. In laboratory-based tests, we detected accumulation of endocrine disrupting chemicals in Red Swamp Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), with the highest bioaccumulation factors for UV-filters, octinoxate and homosalate. Given the accumulation of these UV-filters in aquatic invertebrates in the laboratory experiments, we wanted to investigate potential accumulation in other Chesapeake Bay invertebrates in the field. Based on samples from 14 sites along the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the hormone estrone was detected in 100% of water samples, and the UV-filter, oxybenzone was detected in 100% of all water, sediment, and Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) tissue samples. Oxybenzone concentrations were measured at known toxicity levels for Daphnia and corals. These results demonstrate the ubiquitous presence of these chemicals, confirm UV-filter bioaccumulation in crayfish and oysters, and suggest the need for further investigation on how hormones and UV-filters may be impacting food webs in other aquatic and estuarine ecosystems.

PILED HIGH AND GETTING DEEPER: IMBALANCES IN THE DEMAND FOR SEPTIC SYSTEMS AND THE ABILITY TO TREAT SEPTAGE [Oral Presentation]

Krista Capps (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of Georgia, kcapps@uga.edu;

Nandita Gaur (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Georgia, nandita.gaur@uga.edu;

David Bloyer (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Community Member, Northeast Georgia, davebloyer@gmail.com ;

Tim Callahan (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Georgia Department of Public Health, tim.callahan@dph.ga.gov ;

Keith Higgs (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority, khiggs@ddcwsa.com ;

Daniel Johnson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, djohnson@atlantaregional.org;

Alexandra Orrego (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, aorrego@atlantaregional.org ;

Abstract: Onsite wastewater treatment systems, such as septic systems, are a critical component of global wastewater treatment infrastructure. In the US, approximately 20 percent of new housing developments depend on septic infrastructure for the treatment of waste, and this proportion can be even greater in certain regions, such as the southeast. Maintenance, including pumping, is an important component of appropriately functioning septic systems. Treating septic-derived waste, or septage, is an expensive process, and many jurisdictions that are actively approving new septic permits do not maintain facilities that accept septage for waste treatment. This imbalance creates issues of great environmental concerns, particularly for freshwater systems. Here, we examine temporal patterns in septic development and septage disposal capacity in northeastern Georgia in the southeastern US. We document increases in the total number of permitted septic systems, and concurrent increases in treatment costs and declines in the number of treatment facilities accepting waste. These patterns are most likely not limited to the study region, and the imbalance between the demand for septic systems and treatment options creates a wide-spread management issue that threatens the integrity of freshwater systems and the ecosystem services they provide.

STREAM MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES AND ECOSYSTEM FUNCTIONING SHOW COMPLEX RESPONSES TO MULTIPLE STRESSORS IN WASTEWATER [Oral Presentation]

Francis Burdon (Primary Presenter/Author)
Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden, francis.burdon@slu.se;

Yaohui Bai (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, People's Republic of China, yhbai@rcees.ac.cn;

Marta Reyes (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dubendorf, Switzerland , Marta.Reyes@eawag.ch;

Manu Tamminen (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Department of Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland, mavata@gmail.com;

Philipp Staudacher (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dubendorf, Switzerland , philipp.staudacher@eawag.ch;

Simon Mangold (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Agroscope, Zurich, Switzerland, simon.mangold@agroscope.admin.ch;

Heinz Singer (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dubendorf, Switzerland , Heinz.Singer@eawag.ch;

Katja Räsänen (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dubendorf, Switzerland , katja.rasanen@eawag.ch;

Adriano Joss (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dubendorf, Switzerland , Adriano.Joss@eawag.ch;

Scott Tiegs (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Dept. of Biological Sciences, Oakland University, tiegs@oakland.edu;

Jukka Jokela (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Aquatic Ecology - Eawag, jukka.jokela@eawag.ch;

Rik Eggen (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Environmental Toxicology - Eawag, rik.eggen@eawag.ch;

Christian Stamm (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Environmental Chemistry - Eawag, christian.stamm@eawag.ch;

Abstract: Inputs of urban wastewater potentially have pervasive impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services in receiving freshwater habitats. Viewed through multiple disciplinary lenses, we combined field, flume, and laboratory experiments to investigate wastewater effects on microbial communities and organic-matter processing using a standardized decomposition assay. A mensurative field experiment showed that microbial respiration and decomposition rates were positively influenced by wastewater inputs via warming and nutrient enrichment, but with a notable exception: wastewater decreased the activation energy of decomposition, indicating a “slowing” of this fundamental ecosystem process in response to temperature. Next-generation sequencing of microbial communities showed that wastewater altered community structure, with significant compositional turnover and evidence of negative micropollutant influences on fungal richness. A series of experiments demonstrated how negative wastewater effects on ecosystem functioning are ‘masked’ by nutrients and wastewater-borne microbes. Taken together, our results affirm the multiple-stressor paradigm by describing how different aspects of wastewater (i.e., temperature, nutrients, microbes, and micropollutants) jointly influence biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in complex ways. The net increase in respiration rates driven by wastewater inputs have the potential to generate ecosystem ‘disservices’ via greater carbon evasion from streams and rivers.

The impact of sewage leak subsidies on baseflow diel nitrate fluctuations in in Pittsburgh’s Nine Mile Run [Oral Presentation]

Emily Elliott (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Pittsburgh, eelliott@pitt.edu;

Rebecca Forgrave (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of Pittsburgh, ref61@pitt.edu;

Abstract: Sanitary sewer pipe networks, which broadly cover the urban are often cited as an important source of non-point source nutrient pollution to urban streams (Kaushal et al 2011, Divers et al 2014). However, uncertainties remain in terms of how and when these pipes leak, and how this contamination is transported to nearby waterways in low flow conditions. In this study, we pair in-situ sensor measurements with nitrate isotope analyses to understand the transformation and transportation mechanisms controlling sewer leak emergence in a highly impacted urban stream. We collected high-resolution (15-minute) measurements of nitrate, dissolved oxygen concentrations, and discharge. These measurements were coupled with water samples collected hourly for nitrate isotope analysis during low-flow periods in April, July, and November 2020. We observe decreasing concentrations of organic nitrogen throughout the day, midafternoon peaks in dissolved oxygen, nitrate, and nitrite concentrations when the water table is at its lowest, and afternoon enrichment of nitrate isotopes in stream water as concentration increases. Together, these results suggest that pulses of oxygenation due to decreased water table stimulate nitrification in near-pipe soil with subsequent nitrite and nitrate transport to the stream in late afternoon.

WASTEWATER ASSOCIATED CONTAMINANTS ALTER THE COMPOSITION AND ACTIVITY OF BENTHIC MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES [Oral Presentation]

John Kelly (Primary Presenter/Author)
Loyola University Chicago, Jkelly7@luc.edu;

Abstract: In highly urbanized areas, wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent can be a major input to freshwater ecosystems and can affect the composition and function of native benthic microbial communities, which are critical contributors to riverine biogeochemical processes. WWTP effluent can be a point source of a variety of emerging contaminants associated with consumer products, including pharmaceuticals and personal care products, illicit drugs, microplastics, and engineered nanomaterials. Because these contaminants are most often found at low concentrations in the environment, they are generally considered low risk. However, there is growing concern about the potential for these contaminants to disrupt microbially-driven ecosystem processes. We employed field studies and laboratory model systems to assess the relationships between emerging contaminants and the composition and activity of benthic microbial communities. Our results demonstrate that environmentally relevant concentrations of a variety of emerging contaminants can affect the taxonomic composition of microbial communities, e.g. by selecting for resistant taxa and pathogens, and alter rates of ecosystem processes, e.g. by decreasing respiration and primary production. These results demonstrate significant ecological implications of wastewater in freshwater systems.

PREVALENCE OF THE MICROSPORIDIAN PARASITE THELOHANIA CONTEJEANI IN CRAYFISH ACROSS FIVE OHIO WATERSHEDS [Poster Presentation]

Kourtney N. Craft (Primary Presenter/Author)
Ohio Northern University, k-craft@onu.edu;

Steven C. Churchin (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Ohio Northern University, s-churchin@onu.edu;

Tyler A. Koncsol (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Ohio Northern University, t-koncsol@onu.edu;

Leslie Riley (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Ohio Northern University, l-riley.1@onu.edu;

Robert Verb (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Ohio Northern University, r-verb@onu.edu;

Emily M. Imhoff (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Cincinnati Museum Center, eimho@cincymuseum.org;

Katherine L. Krynak (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Ohio Northern University, k-krynak@onu.edu;

Devon Jackson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Ohio Northern University, Department of Biological & Allied Health Sciences, d-jackson.5@onu.edu;

Abstract: Thelohania contejeani is a parasitic microsporidian that causes porcelain disease (PD) in crayfish. This study utilized molecular methods to survey for T. contejeani across five Ohio river drainages. Crayfish were collected in 2019 (N=31) and in 2020 (N=97) and tissue samples were stored in 95% ethanol for subsequent genetic analyses. Total genomic DNA (gDNA) was extracted from samples using a Qiagen DNeasy Blood and Tissue Kit®. The ITS1 gene of microsporidia was then amplified via polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Successful amplifications served as template in PCR reamplifications using primers specific for T. contejeani. In 2019, one crayfish (3%) out of 12 sampled from the Muskingum River was positive for T. contejeani. In 2020, T. contejeani was detected in 16.7% of the crayfish sampled from the Maumee River (N=24) and 17.6% from the Great Miami River (N=17), however PD-infected crayfish were not found in the Muskingum (N=26), Scioto (N=10), nor Little Miami Rivers (N=20). DNA barcoding will be utilized to identify host species as crayfish may be differentially susceptible to PD, information that could be utilized for prioritizing conservation efforts.

UNDERSTANDING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF MICROBIAL SOURCES TO SURFACE WATER TO INFORM MANAGEMENT OF WATERBORNE PATHOGENS IN WYOMING [Poster Presentation]

Harneel Kaur (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Wyoming, hkaur@uwyo.edu;

Nicolas Blouin (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Wyoming, nblouin@uwyo.edu;

Bledar Bisha (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Wyoming, Bbisha@uwyo.edu;

Sarah Collins (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Wyoming, sarah.collins@uwyo.edu;

Kelsey Ruehling (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of Wyoming, kruehlin@uwyo.edu;

Abstract: Pathogen contamination is the leading cause of impairment in American rivers. Most water quality monitoring programs use fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) as a proxy for enteric pathogens, despite uncertainty about their indication of pathogen presence. That uncertainty can be overcome by multi-method microbial monitoring. For example, high-throughput sequencing (HTS, 16S amplicon sequencing) can provide information about fecal sources and microbial communities that standard enumeration methods cannot. We provide critical information about abundance and sources of fecal pollution to water resource managers using culture-based enumeration of Escherichia coli and Enterococcus spp., anti-microbial resistance in FIB isolates, coliphage typing and community-based source tracking via HTS. Antimicrobial resistance against at least one antibiotic was observed in 51% of the 117 E. coli isolates and 16% of the 80 Enterococcus spp. isolates. Resistance to antimicrobials used in animal agriculture such as tetracycline and fluoroquinolones were observed in isolates. Use of molecular methods in conjunction with standard enumeration provides a more complete understanding of microbial communities in lotic environments. These new data will inform resource management plans by providing novel insights on pathogen and bacterial sources for recently listed streams where plans are not established.