Understanding Sources of Aquatic Contaminants of Emerging Concern

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
U of MN
Recipient Type
Public College/University
In Progress
Start Date
July 2010
End Date
June 2013
Counties Affected
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2010, Chp. 362, Sec. 2, Subd. 05a
Appropriation Language

$640,000 is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to identify chemical markers to characterize sources of endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals entering surface waters in the Zumbro River Watershed. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2013, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.

2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Work Plan" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

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Project Overview

Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are found in surface waters in Minnesota and nationally. CECs can cause adverse ecological and human health impacts, and occur as complex mixtures in the environment. One of the greatest barriers to addressing the problem of CECs is a lack of understanding of where these compounds come from and which sources dominate in different locations and at different times.

We hypothesize that different land uses result in the presence of unique marker compounds, relative concentrations of compounds, and temporal occurrence patterns that will differentiate agricultural sources (crop and livestock production) from non-agricultural sources (residential septic, wastewater treatment effluent). These markers can be used to determine the comparative load of CECs to water, which can in turn be used to help policy-makers and stakeholders develop strategies to reduce their occurrence. The Zumbro River watershed in southeastern Minnesota provides a unique opportunity to study CECs because each of its sub-watersheds has a single dominant land use. We will use field data collected from each sub-watershed to develop a suite of markers for source discrimination and load determination. Ultimately, this “source signature” will be applied to other water bodies in the state for similar source characterization.

This project will address three major objectives:
- Determine what CECs are associated with specific land-uses
- Identify indicator compounds to be used as a monitoring tool to determine sources and loads of CECs
- Work with policy-makers to develop science-based recommendations for prevention, reduction, and remediation strategies

Project Details
Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
U of MN
Street Address
Water Resources Center, 173 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Ave
St. Paul
Zip Code
(612) 625-0279