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  • A Review of Algal Phytoremediation Potential to Sequester Nutrients from Eutrophic Surface Water

    Abstract: Harmful algal blooms (HABs) and coastal hypoxic zones are evidence of cultural nutrient enrichment affecting public health and water supplies, aquatic ecosystem health, and economic well-being in the United States. Recognition of the far-reaching impacts of Midwest agriculture has led to establishing nutrient reduction objectives for surface waters feeding the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Erie, and many smaller water bodies. Municipal nutrient enrichment impacts have been addressed by increasing levels of sewage treatment and waste management through the Clean Water Act era, but HABs rebounded in the 1990s because of non-point source nutrient enrichment. HAB control and treatment includes watershed and waterbody treatments to reduce loading and address outbreaks. Systems to remove nutrients from impaired waters are expensive to build and operate. This review of algal production systems summarizes emerging algal water treatment technologies and considers their potential to effectively sequester nutrients and atmospheric carbon from hundreds of eutrophic reservoirs and DoD wastewater treatment facilities while producing useful biomass feedstock using solar energy. Algal water treatment systems including open ponds, photobioreactors, and algal turf scrubbers® can be used to grow biomass for biofuel, wastewater treatment, and commercial products. This review recommends continuing research on surface water nutrient reduction potential with algal turf scrubber productivity pilot studies, preliminary site design, and biomass utilization investigations.
  • Qualification of Hanna Instruments HI9829 for the Environmental Toolkit for Expeditionary Operations

    Abstract: A new, commercially available, field-portable water sensor was evaluated for efficacy during operation and compatibility with current Environmental Toolkit for Expeditionary Operations (ETEO) software. The ETEO provides sensors to Soldiers to rapidly identify and quantify environmental contamination in soil, air, and water at potential new base sites during initial reconnaissance to ensure safety and minimize unnecessary remediation efforts by the Army. In addition to streamlined environmental baseline survey (EBS) reporting, the ETEO can provide rapid analysis of potential environmental contamination to support various Military applications. The Hanna Instruments HI9829 multiparameter water meter was selected following a survey of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies and analyzed by researchers from the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) for inclusion in the ETEO design since it can rapidly and accurately measure 14 different properties. Usability tests were conducted with researchers unfamiliar with the technology, and a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) were developed to operate the device. The software for the tool was successfully integrated into the ETEO system for rapid data analysis. The HI9829 has been demonstrated in various scenarios at ERDC and other locations; including Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, at which several visitors reviewed the operation of the equipment and other ETEO technologies. The Thermo Scientific Gemini, another sensor, which can detect organic constituents in various matrices via Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy was also investigated but eliminated from the ETEO design as it could not adequately detect a Military-relevant compound in an environmental matrix. Regardless, the addition of the HI9829 provides water quality monitoring to the ETEO design and greatly improves its capability to address various applications.
  • Is Mean Discharge Meaningless for Environmental Flow Management?

    PURPOSE: River ecosystems are highly dependent on and responsive to hydrologic variability over multiple time scales (e.g., hours, months, years). Fluctuating river flows present a key challenge to river managers, who must weigh competing demands for freshwater. Environmental flow recommendations and regulations seek to provide management targets balancing socio-economic outcomes with maintenance of ecological integrity. Often, flow management targets are based on average river conditions over temporal windows such as days, months, or years. Here, three case studies of hydrologic variability are presented at each time scale, which demonstrate the potential pitfalls of mean-based environmental flow criteria. Each case study shows that the intent of the environmental flow target is not met when hydrologic variability is considered. While mean discharge is inadequate as a single-minded flow management target, the consequences of mean flow prescriptions can be avoided in environmental flow recommendations. Based on these case studies, a temporal hierarchy of environmental flow thresholds is proposed (e.g., an instantaneous flow target coupled with daily and monthly averages), which would improve the efficacy of these regulations.
  • Identification and Preventative Treatment of Overwintering Cyanobacteria in Sediments: A Literature Review

    Abstract: Freshwaters can experience growths of toxin-producing cyanobacteria or harmful algal blooms (HABs). HAB-producing cyanobacteria can develop akinetes, which are thick-enveloped quiescent cells akin to seeds in vascular plants or quiescent colonies that overwinter in sediment. Overwintering cells produce viable “seed beds” for HAB resurgences and preventative treatments may diminish HAB intensity. The purpose of this literature review was to identify (1) environmental factors triggering germination and growth of overwintering cells, (2) sampling, identification, and enumeration methods, and (3) feasibility of preventative algaecide treatments. Conditions triggering akinete germination (light ≥0.5 µmol m-2s-1, temperature 22-27℃) differ from conditions triggering overwintering Microcystis growth (temperature 15-30℃, nutrients, mixing). Corers or dredges are used to collect surficial (0-2 cm) sediment layers containing overwintering cells. Identification and enumeration via microscopy are aided by dilution, sieving, or density separation of sediment. Grow-out studies simulate environmental conditions triggering cell growth and provide evidence of overwintering cell viability. Lines of evidence supporting algaecide efficacy for preventative treatments include (1) field studies demonstrating scalability and efficacy of algaecides against benthic algae, (2) data suggesting similar sensitivities of overwintering and planktonic Microcystis cells to a peroxide algaecide, and (3) a mesocosm study demonstrating a decrease in HAB severity following preventative treatments. This review informs data needs, monitoring techniques, and potential efficacy of algaecides for preventative treatments of overwintering cells.
  • Development of a Three-Dimensional Vegetative Loss Mechanism for the Geophysical Scale Transport Multi-Block Hydrodynamic Sediment and Water Quality Transport Modeling System (GSMB)

    PURPOSE: The US Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Environmental Laboratory (EL) and Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) have completed several large scale hydrodynamic, sediment and water quality transport studies. These studies have been successfully executed utilizing the Geophysical Scale Transport Modeling System (GSMB), which is composed of multiple process models (Figure 1). Due to being directly and indirectly linked within the GSMB framework, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) accepted wave, hydrodynamic, sediment, and water quality transport models are both directly and indirectly linked within the GSMB framework.
  • Evaluation of Multiparameter Water Meter for Environmental Toolkit for Expeditionary Operations

    Purpose: A new, commercially available, field-portable water sensor was evaluated for efficacy during operation and compatibility with current Environmental Toolkit for Expeditionary Operations (ETEO) software. The ETEO provides sensors to Soldiers to rapidly identify and quantify environmental contamination in soil, air, and water at potential new base sites during initial reconnaissance to ensure Soldier safety and minimize unnecessary remediation efforts by the Army. The primary objective of this study was to enhance ETEO performance by providing the capability to evaluate multiple water quality properties simultaneously.
  • Sustainable Harmful Algal Bloom Mitigation by 3D Printed Photocatalytic Oxidation Devices (3D-PODs)

    Abstract: The impacts of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB), often caused by cyanobacteria (Figure 1), on water resources are increasing. Innovative solutions for treatment of HABs and their associated toxins are needed to mitigate these impacts and decrease risks without introducing persistent legacy contaminants that cause collateral ecosystem impacts. This technical note (TN) identifies novel opportunities enabled by Additive Manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, to produce high surface area advanced material composites to rapidly prototype sustainable environmental solutions for aquatic nuisance species control. This innovative research explores deployment of 3D-printable polymer composite structures containing nano-scale photocatalysts for targeted open water treatment of HABs that are customizable to the site-of-concern and also retrievable, reusable, and sustainable. The approach developed to control cyanobacteria HAB events has the potential to augment or replace broadcast, non-specific chemical controls that otherwise put non-target species and ecological resources at long-term risk. It can also augment existing UV-treatment HAB treatment control measures. The expected research outcome is a novel, effective, and sustainable HAB management tool for the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and resource managers to deploy in their HAB rapid response programs. The research will provide a framework for scale-up into other manufacturing methods (e.g., injection molding) to produce the devices in bulk (quickly and efficiently). Research for this project title “Mitigation of Harmful Algal Bloom Toxins using 3D Printed Photocatalytic Materials (FY21-23)” was sponsored by the US Army Engineer Research Development Center’s (ERDC) Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Program (ANSRP).
  • Design, Construction, and Testing of the PFAS Effluent Treatment System (PETS), a Mobile Ion Exchange–Based System for the Treatment of Per-, Poly-Fluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) Contaminated Water

    Abstract: Poly-,Per-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are versatile chemicals that were incorporated in a wide range of products. One of their most important use was in aqueous film-forming foams for fighting liquid fuel fires. PFAS compounds have recently been identified as potential environmental contaminants. In the United States there are hundreds of potential military sites with PFAS contamination.The ERDC designed and constructed a mobile treatment system to address small sites (250,000 gallons or less) and as a platform to field test new adsorptive media. The PFAS Effluent Treatment System (PETS) has cartridge filters to remove sediments and a granular activated carbon (GAC) media filter to remove organic compounds that might compete with PFAS in the ion exchange process, although it may also remove PFAS too. The last process is an ion exchange resin specifically designed to remove PFAS to a target level of 70 ng/L or less (equivalent to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Drinking Water Health Advisory). The system was tested at Hurlburt Field, a US Air Force facility in Florida and at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South in Millington, TN.
  • Optimizing the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS)

    Abstract: Harmful algal blooms (HABs) continue to affect lakes and waterways across the nation, often resulting in environmental and economic damage at regional scales. The US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and collaborators have continued research on the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS) project to develop a rapidly deployable and scalable system for mitigating large HABs. The second year of the project focused on optimization research, including (1) development of a new organic flocculant formulation for neutralization and flotation of algal cells; (2) testing and initial optimization of a new, high-throughput biomass dewatering system with low power requirements; (3) development, design, assembly, and initial testing of the first shipboard HABITATS prototype; (4) execution of two field pilot studies of interception and treatment systems in coordination with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; (5) conversion of algal biomass into biocrude fuel at pilot scale with a 33% increase in yield compared to the previous bench scale continuous-flow reactor studies; and (6) refinement of a scalability analysis and optimization model to guide the future development of full-scale prototypes.
  • Cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC): Research and Services

    Abstract: This factsheet details the research and services available from the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center–Environmental Laboratory’s Harmful Algal Blooms team.