This investigation into the occurrence, character, and transformation of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in treatment wetlands in the western United States shows that (i) the nature of DOM in the source water has a major influence on transformations that occur during treatment, (ii) the climate factors have a secondary effect on transformations, (iii) the wetlands receiving treated wastewater can produce a net increase in DOM, and (iv) the hierarchical analytical approach used in this study can measure the subtle DOM transformations that occur. As wastewater treatment plant effluent passes through treatment wetlands, the DOM undergoes transformation to become more aromatic and oxygenated. Autochthonous sources are contributed to the DOM, the nature of which is governed by the developmental stage of the wetland system as well as vegetation patterns. Concentrations of specific wastewaterderived organic contaminants such as linear alkylbenzene sulfonate, caffeine, and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid were significantly attenuated by wetland treatment and were not contributed by internal loading.
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Nature and transformation of dissolved organic matter in treatment wetlands