This project will enable the collection of coastal environmental baseline data to characterize the current state of the ecosystem in the Iqaluit region, Frobisher Bay, and surrounding areas as it relates to wastewater contaminants. The project will also contribute to the capacity building of key parties to collect environmental data as part of the implementation of the Oceans Protection Plan. Results will not only provide an open source of data that can characterize ecosystems, but may also support evidence-based decision making (such as assessments for marine spatial planning around conservation, cumulative effects, traditional harvesting, infrastructure development, city planning, public health policy, etc.).
The Canadian North is in the process of rapid economic and demographic shifts, driven by both a changing climate, increasing expansion of resource extraction and development, as well as expanded tourism with longer open water seasons. A larger northern population will result in increased infrastructure and operational challenges related to wastewater treatment. This expanding human presence will result in greater stresses to northern infrastructure and ecosystems in the immediate region of these effluent releases. It is thus crucial to understand local and regional inputs of contaminants to these ecosystems now in order to predict better the impact of expanded wastewater discharge from an increasing population.
Although southern Canada has benefited from years of monitoring and research into climate-appropriate wastewater treatment strategies, the North has generally not. This is especially true for contaminants related to wastewater releases, such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and antibiotic resistant-gene bearing microbes. In general, there have been significant efforts over the last few decades to monitor and understand sources, fate, and effects of contaminants in the Canadian North, and especially in the Arctic1. However, nearly all such studies have focused on chemicals, such as Stockholm Convention-regulated Persistent Organic Pollutants, polyalkylfluorinated substances reaching the North via long-range transport from more temperate regions where these chemicals are produced or used, as opposed to chemicals used in the North itself. The issue of chemical contaminants from regional human activities has been given much less attention, given the current sparse and low population of northern communities. However, it is clear from work in small communities2-6, and our recent work in Cambridge Bay7, that although chemical contaminants in wastewaters from these settlements (e.g., with maximum populations of several thousand, along the line of many settlements in the Canadian North) are discharged at lower rates than at larger population centers, they are still present at concentrations that can pose potential ecotoxicological risks to immediate receiving waters. Finally, given both harmonization efforts by the Canadian federal government towards more stringent wastewater treatment standards (e.g., Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations of 20128), and draft guidelines for pharmaceuticals (e.g., carbamazepine) to protect aquatic life9, monitoring of wastewater in the Canadian North will soon be crucial to meeting regulatory oversight.
A central element of our monitoring approach will be the use of passive sampling. This is a useful in-situ tool for capturing stochastic fluxes of trace contaminants through time. The new organic-diffusive gradients in thin-films (o-DGT) sampler10 facilitates accurate determinations of water concentrations for polar organic contaminants and allows safe and stable sample archiving11, a useful option for remote field studies. Additionally, archiving samplers provide an opportunity for retrospective study of the original samples to look for new and emerging contaminants that may require different extraction and/or analysis techniques than used originally, making it an ideal tool for core monitoring.
Our primary objectives are as follows:
1. To characterize the concentrations (and loadings) of common wastewater contaminants and the treatment efficacy (e.g., removal) of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, fluorinated-compounds, nutrients, microbes (e.g., E. coli and antibiotic resistant gene bearing organisms) and microplastics in the wastewater effluent, receiving environment, and reference sites (including City of Iqaluit source water).
2. To collect data in open water and under winter ice-covered conditions, to document the seasonal changes in treatment effectiveness, but also changes in the extent and composition of the plume.
3. To collect data following the upgrading of the wastewater treatment plant in Iqaluit from a primary treatment (currently a Salnes filter) to a system with both primary and secondary treatment.
4. Evaluate the effectiveness of a new passive sampler for cost-effective baseline monitoring in the Canadian Arctic for contaminants in wastewater.
1Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (2014) Trends in Stockholm Convention Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Arctic Air, Human Media and Biota. Tech. Rept. 7, Oslo.
2Vasskog T, Anderssen T, Pedersen-Bjergaard S, Kallenborn R, Jensen E, 2008, J Chromatogr A 1185: 194.
3MacLeod SL and Wong CS (2010) Wat Res 44:533.
4Carlson JC, Anderson JC, Low JE, Cardinal P, MacKenzie SD, Beattie SA, Challis JK, Bennett RJ, Meronek SS, Wilks RPA, Buhay WM, Wong CS, Hanson ML (2013) Sci Total Environ 445:64.
5Hoque ME, Cloutier F, Arcieri C, McInnes M, Sultana T, Murry C, Vanrolleghem P, Metcalfe CD (2014) Sci Total Environ 487:801.
6Anderson JC, Joudan S, Shoichet E, Cuscito LD, Alipio AEC, Donaldson CS, Khan S, Goltz DM, Rudy MD, Frank RA, Knapp CW, Hanson ML, Wong CS (2015) Ecol Eng 84:375.
7Chaves-Barquero LG, Luong KH, Mundy CJ, Knapp CW, Hanson ML, Wong CS (2016) Environ Pollut 218:542.
8Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations, http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2012-139/FullText.html
9Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life—Carbamazepine (Draft Scientific Criteria Document http://www.ccme.ca/files/Carbamazepine%20CWQG%20SCD
10Challis JK, Hanson ML, Wong CS (2016) Anal Chem 88:10583.
11Challis JK, Hanson ML, Wong CS (2018) Env Toxicol Chem 37:762-767