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Use of Monte Carlo techniques to assess POTW compliance with EPA water quality criteria for heavy metals

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This paper presents the results of a study (Larry Walker Associates, 1990) to determine the nature of additional controls necessary for the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (Regional Plant) to comply with the numeric water quality objectives for metals recently adopted by the State of California. In addition, the impact of Regional Plant effluent on Sacramento River metals concentrations is examined, and the costs of compliance with the new objectives are estimated.

Monte Carlo techniques are used to determine the ability of the Regional Plant to achieve the metals objectives and the effects of treatment plant discharge on receiving water metal concentrations. Frequency distributions of advanced treatment efficiencies, such as lime precipitation and reverse osmosis, are used to simulate effluent concentration reductions that are potentially achievable. The costs associated with the additional treatment required to meet objectives are estimated using published cost estimates for advanced treatment plants of similar size. Results show that currently, the Regional Plant does not meet objectives for cadmium, copper, mercury, and zinc. Furthermore, the additional treatments evaluated would not completely eliminate violations of the copper and mercury objectives.

Keywords: Clean Water Act; Inland Surface Waters Plan; compliance; heavy metals; potentially achievable reductions

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 1993

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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