During the early 1990s, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) investigated water-quality changes that occur in treated municipal wastewater (recycled water) at a small research basin constructed in the Montebello Forebay of the Central Ground-Water Basin in south-central Los Angeles County. The instrumented research basin is located on a 1/2-acre site at the upgradient end of the San Gabriel River Coastal Spreading Grounds where recharge has been augmented using recycled water since 1961. The facility was used to measure attenuation in selected constituents as recycled water delivered to the basin percolates downward and moves laterally beneath the basin. Attenuation in aqueous concentration was found to range from 20 to 60 percent for total dissolved nitrogen and was about one-third for dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Isotopic data confirmed permanent loss of nitrogen by denitrification. Detailed investigations showed that there were no large differences in the loss of various components of the DOC at the structural or compound level, although surfactants and their metabolites were abundant and did persist in the subsurface. The DOC of wastewater origin was found to have a lower trihalomethane (THM) formation potential upon chlorination than does organic matter of natural origin from most surface-water sources.
The organization of this report into 12 topical chapters, and the report's relation to additional USGS publications from this study, is noted in a preface.