A wetland restoration demonstration project examined the effects of a permanently flooded wetland on subsidence of peat soils. The project, started in 1997, was done on Twitchell Island, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of California. Conversion of agricultural land to a wetland has changed many of the biogeochemical processes controlling dissolved organic carbon (DOC) release from the peat soils, relative to the previous land use. Dissolved organic C in delta waters is a concern because it reacts with chlorine, added as a disinfectant in municipal drinking waters, to form carcinogenic disinfection byproducts (DBPs), including trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). This study explores the effects of peat soil biogeochemistry on DOC and DBP release under agricultural and wetland management. Results indicate that organic matter source, extent of soil organic matter decomposition, and decomposition pathways all are factors in THM formation. The results show that historical management practices dominate the release of DOC and THM precursors. However, within-site differences indicate that recent management decisions can contribute to changes in DOC quality and THM precursor formation. Not all aromatic forms of carbon are highly reactive and certain environmental conditions produce the specific carbon structures that form THMs. Both HAA and THM precursors are elevated in the DOC released under wetland conditions. The findings of this study emphasize the need to further investigate the roles of organic matter sources, microbial decomposition pathways, and decomposition status of soil organic matter in the release of DOC and DBP precursors from delta soils under varying land-use practices.
Additional publication details
Dissolved Organic Carbon and Disinfection By-Product Precursor Release from Managed Peat Soils