Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is a significant organic carbon reservoir in many ecosystems, and its characteristics and sources determine many aspects of ecosystem health and water quality. Fluorescence spectroscopy methods can quantify and characterize the subset of the DOC pool that can absorb and re-emit electromagnetic energy as fluorescence and thus provide a rapid technique for environmental monitoring of DOC in lakes and rivers. Using high resolution fluorescence techniques, we characterized DOC in the Tualatin River watershed near Portland, Oregon, and identified fluorescence parameters associated with effluent from two wastewater treatment plants and samples from sites within and outside the urban region. Using a variety of statistical approaches, we developed and validated a multivariate linear regression model to predict the amount of wastewater in the river as a function of the relative abundance of specific fluorescence excitation/emission pairs. The model was tested with independent data and predicts the percentage of wastewater in a sample within 80% confidence. Model results can be used to develop in situ instrumentation, inform monitoring programs, and develop additional water quality indicators for aquatic systems.
Additional publication details
Applications of fluorescence spectroscopy for predicting percent wastewater in an urban stream