Fate and Mitigation of PPCPs in Subsurface Tile-Drained Fields Irrigated with Rural Sewage Effluents

Climate change has a big impact on the availability of water. To mitigate this scarcity, farmers are irrigating agricultural lands with treated sewage water. However, treatment facilities were not designed to remove many contaminants of emerging concern, particularly pharmaceuticals and personal care products found in rural sewage treatment ponds. To date, little is known about the environmental impacts of PPCPs coming from tile-drained farm fields irrigated with rural sewage effluents.

With a nearly half million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Principal Investigator Wei Zheng, and colleagues from the Illinois State Water Survey will conduct a series of laboratory, field, and numerical modeling studies to investigate the processes affecting contaminant transport, track the occurrence of PPCPs, and develop two cost-effective control techniques: oil capture and biochar-sorption channels. If successful, the team hopes to increase U.S. water and food security by advancing the understanding of the fate and transport of effluent-associated PPCPs and reduce the negative impacts of rural sewage used for irrigation water.

Read more about the project on ISTC’s blog and in USDA’s press release.