Mass balance of heavy metals in New Haven Harbor, Connecticut: Predominance of nonpoint sources

Rozan, Timothy F., Gaboury Benoit

Limnol. Oceanogr., 46(8), 2001, 2032-2049 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2001.46.8.2032

ABSTRACT: A mass balance was constructed quantifying all known sources and sinks for the metals Ag, Cd, Cu, and Pb in New Haven Harbor, Connecticut, USA. Sources included direct atmospheric deposition, rivers, treated sewage effluent, combined sewer overflows, and permitted industrial discharge. Sinks were burial in sediments, tidal exchange with Long Island Sound, removal in salt marshes, and dredging. All of these fluxes were measured directly, rather than estimated, and uncertainties were quantified. The mass balance closed successfully within the uncertainty of the measurements. Riverine inputs account for most of the total yearly metal flux. Metal concentrations in the river can be approximated as a simple linear function of discharge. Salt marshes remove an amount of metal equivalent to 20%-30% of the flux from the river before it reaches the harbor. Burial in sediments is the major sink for all metals examined, but dredging acts as a substantial short-circuit of this sink. Tidal exchange appears to be a relatively small term; however, it is also the least well quantified. Sewage treatment plant (STP) effluent and combined sewer overflow discharge are minor contributors to the overall metal balance, except in the case of Ag. Metal concentrations in STP effluent are a linear function of discharge. Atmospheric deposition is of minor importance but is comparable to sewage effluent. Lakes can be used as natural collectors and indicators of atmospherically deposited metals.

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