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The fine-scale vertical variability of a wastewater plume in shallow, stratified coastal waters

TitleThe fine-scale vertical variability of a wastewater plume in shallow, stratified coastal waters
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsLucas A.J, Kudela R.M
JournalEstuarine Coastal and Shelf Science
Date Published2017/02
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0272-7714
Accession NumberWOS:000399623900003
Keywordscommunity; dispersion; Effluent plumes; hawaii; internal waves; Marine & Freshwater Biology; oceanography; outfall; phytoplankton blooms; sand island; sewage plume; Shelf; Stirring and mixing; Stratified systems; tide; Wastewater plume dispersion

We observed the fine-scale vertical variability of a wastewater plume discharged into shallow, stratified coastal waters with a set of wave-powered profiling moorings and bottom-mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers. These in situ observations demonstrated that the effluent plume occupied a variable portion of the water column, but was typically at or above the pycnocline. The plume was characterized by small vertical scales away from the surface, while complicated patterns of vertical temperature and salinity compensation were found in the plume above the pycnocline. The particular design of the diffuser led to an effluent plume that was roughly split between depth-trapped and trapped at the surface. Estimates of dilution from temperature/salinity diagrams indicated that the plume dilution ranged between 60 and 120, and that the environmental mixing end-members ranged from waters well below the pycnocline to the waters at or near the surface. Far from the outfall, oceanographic variability at frequencies equal to and higher than the diurnal frequency dominated the vertical shear in local currents and thus the vertical and temporal distribution of the plume. Mixing driven by the high frequency non-linear internal waves and bore-like manifestations of the cross-shore baroclinic tide, as suggested by elevated inverse Richardson number within the leading and trailing edge of the bores, was likely the primary source of mixing between the plume and ambient waters far from the outfall. Complicated patterns in plume water characteristics demonstrated the complexity of the plume dilution even in a surfacing plume. The co-occurrence of elevated chlorophyll fluorescence and plume waters was evident in the later part.of the diversion period, but the overall response of the phytoplankton to the effluent diversion was limited. Implications for outfall wastewater monitoring and diffuser design are briefly considered. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Short TitleEstuar. Coast. Shelf Sci.
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