Chemosphere. 2022 Dec 29:137702. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.137702. Online ahead of print.
This study aims to investigate the spatiotemporal trends and impact of COVID-19 lockdowns to the profile of physiochemical parameters in the influent of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) around Brisbane, Australia. One 24-hr composite influent sample was collected from 10 WWTPs and analyzed for a range of physiochemical parameters per week (i.e., chemical oxygen demand (COD), total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), ammonia, volatile suspended solid (VSS)) and per month (i.e., Ni and Cr) from 2012 to 2020, including the period of COVID-19 lockdowns in the region. The catchments studied were urban, with a mix of domestic and industrial activities contributing towards the contaminant profile. Statistical analysis identified that industrial and commercial land use, as well as population size had a large impact to the parameter loads and profile. Per capita mass loads of Cr in one catchment were 100 times higher than in others from one industrial point source. TP demonstrated a potential monotonic decrease over time due to practical reduction policies that have been implemented for phosphorous content in household detergents, except for one catchment where trade waste from food manufacturing industries contributed to an overall increase of 6.9%/year TP. The COVID-19 lockdown (March-April 2020) posed different impact on different catchments, either decrease (7-61%) or increase (2-40%) of most parameter loads (e.g., COD, TOC, TN, TP, VSS, Ammonia), which was likely driven by catchment characteristics (i.e., the proportion of residential, commercial, and industrial land uses). This study enhances our understanding of spatiotemporal trend of contaminants in the catchments for further effective source control.