Organic compounds downstream from a treated-wastewater discharge near Dallas, Texas, March 1987

Water-Resources Investigations Report 93-4194
By: , and 



Water and streambed-sediment samples were collected on March 9 and 10,1987 from one site upstream and three sites downstream of the discharge from a municipal wastewater-treatment plant on Rowlett Creek near Dallas, Texas. To extract and separate organic compounds, purgeand-trap, closed-loop stripping, and pH-adjusted solvent extraction methods were used for water samples; and a Soxhlet-solvent extraction method was used for streambed sediment. These methods were combined with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to identify organic compounds in Rowlett Creek. Results from this study confirm the persistence of many organic compounds in water as far as 13.5 kilometers downstream of the wastewater discharge. These include: (1) the volatile organic compounds chloroform, 1,2-dichlorobenzene, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, tetrachloroethene, and trichloroethene; (2) several linear alkylbenzene compounds, octyl phenol, and a tetramethylbutyl phenol isomer that are related to detergent use; (3) 9-phenyl-9H-carbazole, a compound related to coal tars and coal combustion residues; and (4) caffeine. The only compound present in water in concentrations greater than U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum contaminant levels for drinking water was tetrachloroethene (6.0 micrograms per liter) in a sample collected 13.5 kilometers downstream from the waste water discharge. Compounds identified from the streambed-sediment samples include a xylene isomer at 7.7 kilometers downstream and chrysene, fluoranthene, pyrene, and a xylene isomer at 13.5 kilometers downstream from the wastewater discharge.

Comparison of instantaneous flux values of selected organic compounds in water from downstream sites indicates: (1) the formation of chloroform in the stream following the discharge of the treated effluent, and that (2) instream biodegradation may be decreasing concentrations of linear alkylbenzene compounds in water. The relative persistence of many of the selected organic compounds in Rowlett Creek downstream from the municipal wastewater-treatment plant indicates that they could be transported into Lake Ray Hubbard, a source of municipal water supply.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Organic compounds downstream from a treated-wastewater discharge near Dallas, Texas, March 1987
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 93-4194
DOI 10.3133/wri934194
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Austin, TX
Contributing office(s) Texas Water Science Center, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description iv, 19 p.
Country United States
State Texas
City Dallas
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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