Transformation of effluent organic matter during subsurface wetland treatment in the Sonoran Desert

David M. Quanrud, Martin M. Karpiscak, Kevin E. Lansey, Robert G. Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The fate of dissolved organic matter (DOM) during subsurface wetland treatment of wastewater effluent in a hot, semi-arid environment was examined. The study objectives were to (1) discern changes in the character of dissolved organics as consequence of wetland treatment (2) establish the nature of wetland-derived organic matter, and (3) investigate the impact of wetland treatment on the formation potential of trihalomethanes (THMs). Subsurface wetland treatment produced little change in DOM polarity (hydrophobic-hydrophilic) distribution. Biodegradation of labile effluent organic matter (EfOM) and internal loading of wetland-derived natural organic matter (NOM) together produced only minor changes in the distribution of carbon moieties in hydrophobic acid (HPO-A) and transphilic acid (TPI-A) isolates of wetland effluent. Aliphatic carbon decreased as a percentage of total carbon during wetland treatment. The ratio of atomic C:N in wetland-derived NOM suggests that its character is determined by microbial activity. Formation of THMs upon chlorination of HPO-A and TPI-A isolates increased as a consequence of wetland treatment. Wetland-derived NOM was more reactive in forming THMs and less biodegradable than EfOM. For both HPO-A and TPI-A fractions, relationships between biodegradability and THM formation potential were similar among EfOM and NOM isolates; the less biodegradable isolates exhibited greater THM formation potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-788
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Effluent organic matter
  • Hydrophobic acid
  • Natural organic matter
  • Transphilic acid
  • Trihalomethanes
  • Wetland treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Transformation of effluent organic matter during subsurface wetland treatment in the Sonoran Desert'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this