Built Environment

Reducing nutrients, organic micropollutants, antibiotic resistance, and toxicity in rural wastewater effluent with subsurface filtration treatment technology

Anderson JC, Joudan S, Shoichet E, Cuscito LD, Alipio AEC, Donaldson CS, Khan S, Goltz DM, Rudy MD, Frank RA, et al. Reducing nutrients, organic micropollutants, antibiotic resistance, and toxicity in rural wastewater effluent with subsurface filtration treatment technology. Ecological Engineering [Internet]. 2015 ;84:375 - 385. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925857415301397
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

The ability of a sub-surface treatment filtration system to remove nutrients, thirty-nine organic contaminants, metals, and antibiotic resistant gene (ARG)-bearing organisms, and to attenuate acute toxicity of wastewater lagoon effluents, was assessed. Significant removal was observed for nutrients between the conventional primary and secondary sewage lagoons, with further average attenuation of 59% and 50% of ammonia and total phosphorus (TP), respectively, within the filter. Effluent concentrations of ammonia ranged from 0.4 to 2.6 mg/L and concentrations of TP from 1 to 4.1 mg/L, with decreasing acute toxicity from primary to secondary lagoons, and no toxicity observed in the filtration system based on Microtox® assays. Most organic micropollutants were also efficiently removed between the primary and secondary lagoons (e.g., up to 98% for atenolol). However, in general, little attenuation occurred within the filter for estrogenic compounds (e.g., 17α-ethinylestradiol); β-blockers (e.g., metoprolol); antidepressants (e.g., fluoxetine-Prozac); antibacterial agents (e.g., triclosan), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., diclofenac); lipid regulators (e.g., clofibric acid); and macrolide (e.g., clarithromycin) and sulfonamide (e.g., sulfamethazine) antibiotics; or metals (Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, and Zn). This lack of removal was likely due to a minimal hydraulic residence time within the filter (∼6 h) under current operating conditions. The lagoon treatment system effectively removed ∼99% of sulfonamide resistant bacteria, but the filter both reduced tetracycline-resistant bacteria (∼58%) in wastewater and harbored them in the biofilms, as relative abundances of sul and tet genes were greatest there. The filter also harbored nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria, respectively, contributing to N removal. These results suggest that the constructed sub-surface treatment filtration system can provide a low-cost, low-maintenance, and effective means to reduce nutrient loading and improve microbial community structure and function.

Blue is the new green – Ecological enhancement of concrete based coastal and marine infrastructure

Ido S, Shimrit P-F. Blue is the new green – Ecological enhancement of concrete based coastal and marine infrastructure. Ecological Engineering [Internet]. 2015 ;84:260 - 272. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925857415301609
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Concrete based coastal and marine infrastructure (CMI) such as ports, piers, industrial facilities and coastal defense elements dominate coastal zones world-wide. Coastal hardening replaces natural habitats with urban/industrial waterfronts that cannot provide ecosystem services similar to those offered by undisturbed coastlines. As a result, CMI are often considered as sacrificed zones with no environmental value. Studies show that marine flora and fauna on CMI, is typically less diverse than natural assemblages, and is commonly dominated by nuisance and invasive species. Here we summarize the results of a 24 month monitoring study of a breakwater section (Haifa, Israel) composed of armor unites cast from a proprietary concrete mix with an ecological design (ECOncrete® Antifers – EA). The study compared benthic community structure (fish, invertebrates and algae), species richness, live cover, diversity and the ratio of invasive to local species, on EA to that of an adjacent breakwater section made of standard Antifers (SA) composed of Portland based concrete. The abundance, richness and diversity of invertebrates and fish were higher on and around the EA compared to SA, while the ratio of invasive to local species was considerably lower. Moreover, engineering species such as oysters, serpulid worms, bryozoans and coralline algae were more dominant on the EA than on the SA. These ecosystem engineers increase the complexity of the structure, by means of biogenic buildup, which increase the availability of food and shelter in the area, while potentially contributing to the structures stability and longevity via bioprotection. The study indicates the ability of design substrate alterations to facilitate competition for space between local and invasive species on CMI, and demonstrates the feasibility of applying environmentally sensitive technologies for enhancing the biological and ecological performance of structures like breakwaters, piers, and seawalls. Ecological enhancement of concrete based CMI increases the ecosystem services provided by the structure, without hampering its structural performance, and thus should be integrated into future coastal development projects, preferably and most efficiently from early planning stages.

Resilience from coastal protection

Ewing LC. Resilience from coastal protection. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences [Internet]. 2015 ;373(2053). Available from: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/2053/20140383.abstract
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Coastal areas are important residential, commercial and industrial areas; but coastal hazards can pose significant threats to these areas. Shoreline/coastal protection elements, both built structures such as breakwaters, seawalls and revetments, as well as natural features such as beaches, reefs and wetlands, are regular features of a coastal community and are important for community safety and development. These protection structures provide a range of resilience to coastal communities. During and after disasters, they help to minimize damages and support recovery; during non-disaster times, the values from shoreline elements shift from the narrow focus on protection. Most coastal communities have limited land and resources and few can dedicate scarce resources solely for protection. Values from shore protection can and should expand to include environmental, economic and social/cultural values. This paper discusses the key aspects of shoreline protection that influence effective community resilience and protection from disasters. This paper also presents ways that the economic, environmental and social/cultural values of shore protection can be evaluated and quantified. It presents the Coastal Community Hazard Protection Resilience (CCHPR) Index for evaluating the resilience capacity to coastal communities from various protection schemes and demonstrates the use of this Index for an urban beach in San Francisco, CA, USA.

Fish-protection devices at unscreened water diversions can reduce entrainment: evidence from behavioural laboratory investigations

Poletto JB, Cocherell DE, Mussen TD, Ercan A, Bandeh H, M. Kavvas L, Cech JJ, Fangue NA. Fish-protection devices at unscreened water diversions can reduce entrainment: evidence from behavioural laboratory investigations. Conservation Physiology [Internet]. 2015 ;3(1). Available from: http://conphys.oxfordjournals.org/content/3/1/cov040.abstract
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Diversion (i.e. extraction) of water from rivers and estuaries can potentially affect native wildlife populations if operation is not carefully managed. For example, open, unmodified water diversions can act as a source of injury or mortality to resident or migratory fishes from entrainment and impingement, and can cause habitat degradation and fragmentation. Fish-protection devices, such as exclusion screens, louvres or sensory deterrents, can physically or behaviourally deter fish from approaching or being entrained into water diversions. However, empirical assessment of their efficacy is often lacking or is investigated only for particular economically or culturally important fishes, such as salmonids. The Southern population of anadromous green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) is listed as threatened in California, and there is a high density of water diversions located within their native range (the Sacramento–San Joaquin watershed). Coupled with their unique physiology and behaviour compared with many other fishes native to California, the green sturgeon is susceptible to entrainment into diversions and is an ideal species with which to study the efficacy of mitigation techniques. Therefore, we investigated juvenile green sturgeon (188–202 days post-hatch) in the presence of several fish-protection devices to assess behaviour and entrainment risk. Using a large experimental flume (∼500 kl), we found that compared with an open diversion pipe (control), the addition of a trash-rack box, louvre box, or perforated cylinder on the pipe inlet all significantly reduced the proportion of fish that were entrained through the pipe (P = 0.03, P = 0.028, and P = 0.028, respectively). Likewise, these devices decreased entrainment risk during a single movement past the pipe by between 60 and 96%. These fish-protection devices should decrease the risk of fish entrainment during water-diversion activities.

Depolderisation policy against coastal flooding and social acceptability on the French Atlantic coast: The case of the Arcachon Bay

Goeldner-Gianella L, Bertrand F, Oiry A, Grancher D. Depolderisation policy against coastal flooding and social acceptability on the French Atlantic coast: The case of the Arcachon Bay. Ocean & Coastal Management [Internet]. 2015 ;116:98 - 107. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0964569115001854
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

This article details the results of a social survey concerning “depolderisation”, conducted in the Arcachon Bay on the south-western French Atlantic coast. Depolderisation consists of reopening polders to the sea via tidal gates, creating breaches in the dikes or dismantling them altogether. Although this technique has rarely been used in France, in comparison with the UK or the USA, it has begun to arouse interest, especially in the wake of storm Xynthia which in 2010 heavily damaged the French Atlantic reclaimed coast. In the Arcachon Bay, researchers have demonstrated that managing flooding risk through depolderisation leads to ecosystemic benefits, such as a more flexible sea defence through the restoration of saltmarshes, biodiversity enhancement and nature-based recreation. They have also investigated the social acceptability of depolderisation – the main topic of this article. Several methods were used to analyse this acceptability: thorough interviews, a questionnaire survey answered by 675 polder users and inhabitants and a survey on their willingness to pay. The results show that the local people and some of the stakeholders are largely opposed to depolderisation, preferring the reinforcement of sea dikes. This refusal is not linked to a fear of the sea but to a deep attachment to local polders and their uses, and to the slow pace of national policy development on coastal risk management. The fact that similar results have been obtained in other European countries confirms some of these results. This article is a contribution to the debate initiated in developed countries on more flexible or natural ways of managing coastal risks and adaptation to climate change, and on the social obstacles that hinder renewed and sustainable coastal policies.

Estimated human health risks from recreational exposures to stormwater runoff containing animal faecal material

Soller J, Bartrand T, Ravenscroft J, Molina M, Whelan G, Schoen M, Ashbolt N. Estimated human health risks from recreational exposures to stormwater runoff containing animal faecal material. Environmental Modelling & Software [Internet]. 2015 ;72:21 - 32. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364815215001681
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Scientific evidence supporting recreational water quality benchmarks primarily stems from epidemiological studies conducted at beaches impacted by human fecal sources. Epidemiological studies conducted at locations impacted by non-human faecal sources have provided ambiguous and inconsistent estimates of risk. Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) is another tool to evaluate potential human health risks from recreational exposures to non-human faecal contamination. The potential risk differential between human and selected non-human faecal sources has been characterized previously for direct deposition of animal feces to water. In this evaluation, we examine the human illness potential from a recreational exposure to freshwater impacted by rainfall-induced runoff containing agricultural animal faecal material. Risks associated with these sources would be at least an order of magnitude lower than the benchmark level of public health protection associated with current US recreational water quality criteria, which are based on contamination from human sewage sources.

Natural Shorelines Promote the Stability of Fish Communities in an Urbanized Coastal System

Scyphers SB, Gouhier TC, Grabowski JH, Beck MW, Mareska J, Powers SP. Natural Shorelines Promote the Stability of Fish Communities in an Urbanized Coastal System. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2015 ;10(6):e0118580. Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0118580
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Habitat loss and fragmentation are leading causes of species extinctions in terrestrial, aquatic and marine systems. Along coastlines, natural habitats support high biodiversity and valuable ecosystem services but are often replaced with engineered structures for coastal protection or erosion control. We coupled high-resolution shoreline condition data with an eleven-year time series of fish community structure to examine how coastal protection structures impact community stability. Our analyses revealed that the most stable fish communities were nearest natural shorelines. Structurally complex engineered shorelines appeared to promote greater stability than simpler alternatives as communities nearest vertical walls, which are among the most prevalent structures, were most dissimilar from natural shorelines and had the lowest stability. We conclude that conserving and restoring natural habitats is essential for promoting ecological stability. However, in scenarios when natural habitats are not viable, engineered landscapes designed to mimic the complexity of natural habitats may provide similar ecological functions.

Application of management tools to integrate ecological principles with the design of marine infrastructure

Dafforn KA, Mayer-Pinto M, Morris RL, Waltham NJ. Application of management tools to integrate ecological principles with the design of marine infrastructure. Journal of Environmental Management [Internet]. 2015 ;158:61 - 73. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479715300530
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Globally the coastal zone is suffering the collateral damage from continuing urban development and construction, expanding resource sectors, increasing population, regulation to river flow, and on-going land change and degradation. While protection of natural coastal habitat is recommended, balancing conservation with human services is now the challenge for managers. Marine infrastructure such as seawalls, marinas and offshore platforms is increasingly used to support and provide services, but has primarily been designed for engineering purposes without consideration of the ecological consequences. Increasingly developments are seeking alternatives to hard engineering and a range of ecological solutions has begun to replace or be incorporated into marine and coastal infrastructure. But too often, hard engineering remains the primary strategy because the tools for managers to implement ecological solutions are either lacking or not supported by policy and stakeholders. Here we outline critical research needs for marine urban development and emerging strategies that seek to mitigate the impacts of marine infrastructure. We present case studies to highlight the strategic direction necessary to support management decisions internationally.

Night-time lighting alters the composition of marine epifaunal communities

Davies TW, Coleman M, Griffith KM, Jenkins SR. Night-time lighting alters the composition of marine epifaunal communities. Biology Letters [Internet]. 2015 ;11(4). Available from: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/cgi/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2015.0080
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Marine benthic communities face multiple anthropogenic pressures that compromise the future of some of the most biodiverse and functionally important ecosystems in the world. Yet one of the pressures these ecosystems face, night-time lighting, remains unstudied. Light is an important cue in guiding the settlement of invertebrate larvae, and altering natural regimes of nocturnal illumination could modify patterns of recruitment among sessile epifauna. We present the first evidence of night-time lighting changing the composition of temperate epifaunal marine invertebrate communities. Illuminating settlement surfaces with white light-emitting diode lighting at night, to levels experienced by these communities locally, both inhibited and encouraged the colonization of 39% of the taxa analysed, including three sessile and two mobile species. Our results indicate that ecological light pollution from coastal development, shipping and offshore infrastructure could be changing the composition of marine epifaunal communities.

Advancing practice relating to SEA alternatives

González A, Thérivel R, Fry J, Foley W. Advancing practice relating to SEA alternatives. Environmental Impact Assessment Review [Internet]. 2015 ;53:52 - 63. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195925515000347
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Developing and assessing alternatives is a key and central stage to Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). However, research has repeatedly reported this stage as one of the most poorly undertaken aspects of the SEA process. Current practice limitations include belated consideration of reasonable alternatives, narrow scope of alternatives that often include unrealistic or retrofitted options, limited stakeholder and public involvement in their identification, assessment and selection, lack of systematic approaches to their assessment and comparison, and inadequate reporting of the ‘storyline’ on how they were identified, what the potential impacts are and why the preferred alternative was selected. These issues have resulted in objections and judicial reviews.

On the positive side, a number of good practice case studies enable extraction of key lessons and formulation of a set of general recommendations to advance practice in SEA alternatives. In this paper, practical guidance on the identification and development of alternatives, their assessment and comparison, selection of the preferred option, and documentation of the process and the reasons for selection is provided and discussed to frame good practice approaches.

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