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  1. Abstract

    Urban centers around the world are grappling with the challenges associated with population increases, drought, and projected water shortages. Potable water reuse (i.e., purification of municipal wastewater for reuse as drinking water) is an option for supplementing existing water supplies. Public perception research on potable water reuse has predominantly employed surveys with multiple‐choice questions that constrain survey respondents to describe their concerns by choosing from several response options. This research examines hundreds of write‐in responses to a large public survey in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to provide a detailed analysis of residents' questions and concerns about potable water reuse. Findings demonstrate that allowing respondents to voice their actual concerns adds richness and nuance that cannot be obtained from multiple‐choice response data alone. Especially with controversial resource considerations, such as potable water reuse, planners would benefit from a full understanding of the problem before engaging with the community.

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  2. Abstract

    Wildfires are increasing globally in frequency, severity, and extent, but their impact on fluvial networks, and the resources they provide, remains unclear. We combine remote sensing of burn perimeter and severity, in-situ water quality monitoring, and longitudinal modeling to create the first large-scale, long-term estimates of stream+river length impacted by wildfire for the western US. We find that wildfires directly impact ~6% of the total stream+river length between 1984 and 2014, increasing at a rate of 342 km/year. When longitudinal propagation of water quality impacts is included, we estimate that wildfires affect ~11% of the total stream+river length. Our results indicate that wildfire activity is one of the largest drivers of aquatic impairment, though it is not routinely reported by regulatory agencies, as wildfire impacts on fluvial networks remain unconstrained. We identify key actions to address this knowledge gap and better understand the growing threat to fluvial networks, water security, and public health risks.

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  3. Abstract

    Urban communities around the world are grappling with the challenges associated with population increases, drought, and projected water shortages. With a substantial global shortfall between water supply and demand expected by 2030, water planning strategies must adapt to a new reality characterized by higher temperatures and less precipitation, requiring new ways of thinking about water management, use, and governance. Commonplace strategies such as water conservation and nonpotable water reuse might not be sufficient to adequately stretch water supplies in water‐scarce parts of the industrialized world. In the United States, planned potable water reuse (i.e., purification of domestic wastewater for reuse as drinking water) is emerging as a way forward to mitigate water shortages without significant changes to lifestyle, behavior, or infrastructure. But potable reuse is not the only solution: paradigm shifting and disruptive options that more holistically address water scarcity, such as composting toilets and market‐based approaches to water use, are also gaining traction, and they could be pursued alongside or instead of potable water reuse. However, these options would require more significant changes to lifestyles, behavior, infrastructure, and governance. While all of the options considered offer advantages, they each come with new concerns and challenges related to cost, public perception, social norms, and policy. The goal of this work is to consider a number of plausible solutions to water scarcity—partial and complete, traditional and disruptive—to stimulate forward‐looking thinking about the increasingly common global problem of water scarcity.

    This article is categorized under:

    Engineering Water > Sustainable Engineering of Water

    Engineering Water > Planning Water

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  4. Abstract

    Sensor‐based, semicontinuous observations of water quality parameters have become critical to understanding how changes in land use, management, and rainfall‐runoff processes impact water quality at diurnal to multidecadal scales. While some commercially available water quality sensors function adequately under a range of turbidity conditions, other instruments, including those used to measure nutrient concentrations, cease to function in high turbidity waters (> 100 nephelometric turbidity units [NTU]) commonly found in large rivers, arid‐land rivers, and coastal areas. This is particularly true during storm events, when increases in turbidity are often concurrent with increases in nutrient transport. Here, we present the development and validation of a system that can affordably provide Self‐Cleaning FiLtrAtion for Water quaLity SenSors (SC‐FLAWLeSS), and enables long‐term, semicontinuous data collection in highly turbid waters. The SC‐FLAWLeSS system features a three‐step filtration process where: (1) a coarse screen at the inlet removes particles with diameter > 397 μm, (2) a settling tank precipitates and then removes particles with diameters between 10 and 397 μm, and (3) a self‐cleaning, low‐cost, hollow fiber membrane technology removes particles ≥ 0.2μm. We tested the SC‐FLAWLeSS system by measuring nitrate sensor data loss during controlled, serial sediment additions in the laboratory and validated it by monitoring soluble phosphate concentrations in the arid Rio Grande river (New Mexico, U.S.A.), at hourly sampling resolution. Our data demonstrate that the system can resolve turbidity‐related interference issues faced by in situ optical and wet chemistry sensors, even at turbidity levels > 10,000 NTU.

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  5. Abstract

    Resazurin (Raz) is a phenoxazine dye that can be reduced irreversibly to the daughter compound resorufin (Rru) by aerobic respiration. Previous hydrologic studies using the Raz‐Rru reactive tracer system to quantify water‐sediment interactions and metabolic activity have reported that dilution‐corrected masses of Raz and Rru recovered are smaller than the mass of Raz injected. This lack of mass balance closure has been reported as a nonideality of this tracer system and, to date, it is still unclear what drives incomplete recovery. We used controlled laboratory experiments varying the initial concentrations of Raz, the duration of the experiments, and the type of microbial communities present to quantify mass balances of Raz and Rru under conditions that removed other suspected causes of incomplete recovery in field experiments, i.e., sorption to sediments and photodecay. We used the summation of Raz and Rru concentrations over time to assess mass recovery and variability and found mass recoveries in the range of 85.6–110.4%, with a maximum standard deviation of 7.5%. In three of the four experiments, no strong temporal trend in mass recovery is present. In an experiment withBacillus subtilisbacteria, lower recovery and evidence of a temporal trend in recovery only occurred after 13 hr past the complete transformation of Raz (i.e., beyond the duration of most field experiments). These results suggest that the lack of mass recovery in field studies is likely associated with physical or chemical mechanisms rather than biological interactions with the Raz‐Rru tracer system.

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  6. Abstract

    Fluvial networks integrate, transform, and transport constituents from terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. To date, most research on water quality dynamics has focused on process understanding at individual streams, and, as a result, there is a lack of studies analyzing how physical and biogeochemical drivers scale across fluvial networks. We performed tracer tests in five stream orders of the Jemez River continuum in New Mexico, USA, to quantify reach‐scale hyporheic exchange during two different seasonal periods to address the following: How do hyporheic zone contributions to overall riverine processing change with space and time? And does the spatiotemporal variability of hyporheic exchange scale across fluvial networks? Combining conservative (i.e., bromide) and reactive (i.e., resazurin) tracer analyses with solute transport modeling, we found a dominance of reaction‐limited transport conditions and a decrease of the contributions of hyporheic processing across stream orders and flow regimes. Our field‐based findings suggest that achieving knowledge transferability of hyporheic processing within fluvial networks may be possible, especially when process variability is sampled across multiple stream orders and flow regimes. Therefore, we propose a shift in our traditional approach to investigating scaling patterns in transport processes, which currently relies on the interpretation of studies conducted in multiple sites (mainly in headwater streams) that are located in different fluvial networks, to a more cohesive, network‐centered investigation of processes using the same or readily comparable methods.

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  7. The co-occurrence of uranyl and arsenate in contaminated water caused by natural processes and mining is a concern for impacted communities, including in Native American lands in the U.S. Southwest. We investigated the simultaneous removal of aqueous uranyl and arsenate after the reaction with limestone and precipitated hydroxyapatite (HAp, Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2). In benchtop experiments with an initial pH of 3.0 and initial concentrations of 1 mM U and As, uranyl and arsenate coprecipitated in the presence of 1 g L−1 limestone. However, related experiments initiated under circumneutral pH conditions showed that uranyl and arsenate remained soluble. Upon addition of 1 mM PO43− and 3 mM Ca2+ in solution (initial concentration of 0.05 mM U and As) resulted in the rapid removal of over 97% of U via Ca−U−P precipitation. In experiments with 2 mM PO4 3− and 10 mM Ca2+ at pH rising from 7.0 to 11.0, aqueous concentrations of As decreased (between 30 and 98%) circa pH 9. HAp precipitation in solids was confirmed by powder X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray. Electron microprobe analysis indicated U was coprecipitated with Ca and P, while As was mainly immobilized through HAp adsorption. The results indicate that natural materials, such as HAp and limestone, can effectively remove uranyl and arsenate mixtures. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 12, 2024
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  9. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  10. Anthropogenic and natural disasters (e.g., wildfires, oil spills, mine spills, sewage treatment facilities) cause water quality disturbances in fluvial networks. These disturbances are highly unpredictable in space-time, with the potential to propagate through multiple stream orders and impact human and environmental health over days to years. Due to challenges in monitoring and studying these events, we need methods to strategize the deployment of rapid response research teams on demand. Rapid response research has the potential to close the gap in available water quality data and process understanding through time-sensitive data collection efforts. This manuscript presents a protocol that can guide researchers in preparing for and researching water quality disturbance events. We tested and refined the protocol by assessing the longitudinal propagation of water quality disturbances from the 2022 Hermit's Peak—Calf Canyon, NM, USA, the largest in the state's recorded history. Our rapid response research allowed us to collect high-resolution water quality data with semi-continuous sensors and synoptic grab sampling. The data collected have been used for traditional peer-reviewed publications and pragmatically to inform water utilities, restoration, and outreach programs. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 24, 2024