Cookies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.


Durham Research Online
You are in:

The importance of sewage effluent discharge in the export of dissolved organic carbon from United Kingdom rivers.

Worrall, Fred and Howden, Nicholas J.K. and Burt, Tim P. and Bartlett, Rebecca (2019) 'The importance of sewage effluent discharge in the export of dissolved organic carbon from United Kingdom rivers.', Hydrological processes., 33 (13). pp. 1851-1864.

Abstract

The flux of fluvial carbon from the terrestrial biosphere to the world's oceans is known to be an important component of the global carbon cycle but within this pathway the flux and return of carbon to the river network via sewage effluent has not been quantified. In this study monitoring data from 2000 to 2016 for the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) of the final effluent of sewage treatment works from across England were examined to assess the amount of DOC contributing to national‐scale fluvial fluxes of carbon. The study shows that the median concentration of DOC in final effluent was 9.4 mg C/l compared to 4.8 mg C/l for all surface waters for the UK over the study period, and the DOC in final effluent significantly declined over the study period from 11.0 to 6.4 mg C/l. Rivers receiving sewage effluent showed a significant, on average 19%, increase in DOC concentration downstream of sewage discharges. At the scale of the UK, the flux of DOC in final effluent was 31 ktonnes C/yr with a per capita export of 0.55 kg C/yr and compared to an average annual flux of DOC from the UK of 859 ktonnes C/yr, i.e. only 3.6% of national‐scale flux. The lability of this DOC was limited, with only 7.4% loss of final effluent DOC concentration over in‐stream residence times of up to 5 days. The direct decline in DOC concentration from sewage treatment works was not large enough on its own to explain the declines observed in DOC concentration in UK rivers at their tidal limit.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
(1211Kb)
Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.13442
Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Worrall, Fred, Howden, Nicholas J.K., Burt, Tim P. & Bartlett, Rebecca (2019). The importance of sewage effluent discharge in the export of dissolved organic carbon from United Kingdom rivers. Hydrological Processes 33(13): 1851-1864., which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.13442. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:04 February 2019
Date deposited:20 March 2019
Date of first online publication:June 2019
Date first made open access:31 May 2020

Save or Share this output

Export:
Export
Look up in GoogleScholar