Micropollutant dynamics in Vidy Bay - A coupled hydrodynamic-photolysis model to assess the spatial extent of ecotoxicological risk
The direct discharge of effluent wastewater into Vidy Bay (Lake Geneva) results in the formation of an effluent plume with locally high concentrations of wastewater-derived micropollutants. The micropollutant hotspots above the wastewater outfall present a potential ecotoxicological risk, yet the spatial extent of the plume and the associated ecotoxicological risk zone remain unclear. This work combines the two main processes affecting the spreading of the plume, namely dilution of micropollutants due to mixing and degradation by photolysis, into a coupled hydrodynamic-photolysis model, with which we estimated the spatial extent of the risk zone in Vidy Bay. The concentration of micropollutants around the wastewater outfall was simulated for typical wind scenarios and seasons relevant to Vidy Bay, and the resulting ecotoxicological risk was evaluated. Specifically, we determined the direct and indirect photolysis rate constants for 24 wastewater-derived micropollutants, and implemented these in a hydrodynamic particle tracking model, which tracked the movement of water parcels from the wastewater outfall. Simulations showed that owing to thermal stratification, the zone of ecotoxicological risk is largest in summer and extends horizontally over 300 m from the outfall. Photolysis processes contribute to reducing the plume extent mainly under unstratified conditions when the plume surfaces. Moreover, it was shown that only a few compounds, mainly antibiotics, dominate the total ecotoxicological risk.