Cleaning Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake Dr. Marty Auer Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering Michigan Tech University
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake Lake Ontario Oswego River Seneca River Cross Onondaga Lake Lake Syracuse Onondaga Lake, located in metropolitan Syracuse, New York, has received the municipal and industrial waste of the region for over 100 years. Testimony to the United States Senate has described Onondaga Lake as one of the most polluted in the country – perhaps the most polluted.
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake • Syracuse, New York: The Salt City • 1615 – first European visitor, Samuel Champlain • 1654 – salt springs discovered, Father Simon Lemoyne • 1794 – salt industry in place, James Geddes • 1820 – local brine springs failing • 1838 – wells dug around Onondaga Lake fail to locate source • 1862 – salt industry reaches its peak
http://www.history.rochester.edu/canal/ http://www.nycanal.com/nycanalhistory.html Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake • Central New York • 1828 – Erie and Oswego Canals • 1838 – railroads reach Syracuse • 1848 – City of Syracuse incorporated • 1950s – NYS Thruway and I-81
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake Solvay Process Allied Chemical Allied Signal Honeywell
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake The Solvay Process In 1865, a Belgian chemist, Ernest Solvay, developed a process to produce soda ash from calcium carbonate (limestone) and sodium chloride (salt). Soda ash is used in softening water and in the manufacture of glass, soap and paper: Ernest Solvay 1943: wastebeds collapse flooding region with soda ash waste http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/tcaw/11/i02/html/02chemchron.html
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake The Chlor-Alkali Process The chlor-alkali process was used to generate chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide through electrolysis of a salt brine solution. Mercury was used as the cathode in the electrolysis cell. There is loss of mercury through leakage and dumping as the cells are cleaned or replaced.Approximately 75,000 kg of mercury were discharged to Onondaga Lake over the period 1946-1970.
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake The Mud Boils Mud boils or mud volcanoes occur along Onondaga Creek in Tully Valley, New York where salt brine was solution-mined for nearly a century (1889-1986). Mud boils form when increased groundwater pore pressures (rain, spring runoff) liquefy sediment (soil). These pressures result in a surface discharge of liquefied sediment as a mud volcano or mud boil.
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake The Mud Boils Distribution of terrigenous sediment solids Onondaga Creek, flowing from Tully Valley, enters here There is considerable debate regarding the role of brine solution mining in leading to mud boils. However, it is known that more than half the sediment loading to Onondaga Lake comes via Onondaga Creek and a substantial fraction of that load originates in the Tully Valley.
Combined Sewer Overflow Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake CSOs CSOs have discharged to Onondaga Lake via Onondaga Creek, Harbor Brook, and Ley Creek. A plan is in place to reduce discharges by 56% at a cost of $65-80 million. The plan incorporates limited sewer separation (7%), activation of a dormant in-line storage system (43%) and construction of ‘regional treatment facilties’ or RTFs (50%). The RTFs include a wet well, swirl concentrator (~0.5 MG) and disinfection tank. Combined wastewater captured through in-line storage and solids captured in swirl concentrators are routed to the treatment plant as storm flows abate. The Partnership for Onondaga Creek is contesting the County plan as an incomplete and insufficient approach which violates the principles of environmental justice.
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake Water Quality Issues CSOs Industry METRO Mud boils Waste beds Chloride Ammonia Mercury Toxics Fecal bacteria Sanitary detritus Aesthetics Phosphorus and Ammonia Algae and Transparency Oxygen and Redox
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake The ‘mistake by the lake’ Image source: www.onlakepartners.org/index.cfm
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake A Mall ?
Parallel World Edition Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake “Submitted for your approval …” Rod Serling b. 1924, Syracuse, NY Twilight Zone http://www.hollywoodlegends.com/rod-serling.html http://www.liverpool.k12.ny.us/LCSD/SecSocStudies/MyCommunity/carousel.html
Revised Parallel World Edition Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake What’s a mall like you doin’ in a place like this” with apologies to Bob Dylan
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake Image source:The Post-Standard
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake But first we’ve got to get the condoms off of the railing!
METRO Contribution to Lake Inflow METRO (%) J F M A M J J A S O N D Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake $400 Million
http://www.lake.onondaga.ny.us/ol41206.htm#ol50 Rehabilitation Restoration Remediation Cleanup Reclamation Salmon 2000
clearer ^ The Diversion Plan Seneca River Onondaga Lake METRO
Prior consideration of the diversion plan METRO Construction (ca. 1960) According to the original plans for the facility, the METRO effluent was to be pumped around the lake, combined with the Ley Creek plant effluent, and discharged to the Seneca River (Effler 1996). Needed for dilution. METRO Upgrades (ca. 1970s) Discharge of the effluent to the Seneca River was dismissed because the river’s assimilative capacity was judged to be inadequate (USEPA 1974, as cited in Effler 1996). Never quantified. Rehabilitation Program (ca. 2003) Diversion remains on the table as an alternative if initial efforts do not achieve water quality standards (Effler et al. 2002). Zebra mussels. Never quantified.
Seneca River DO (mg/L) Distance Downstream of Baldwinsville (km) Effects of ionic pollution on river resources 12 10 saturation 8 6 DO standard daily average 4 2 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 Image source: UFI
Tonight … on City Confidential “Whatever Happened to the Diversion Plan?” http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1997/gen/resources/watergate/
Compelling reasons for in-lake discharge 1. In-lake discharge is consistent with the fundamental principles of lake and river management. The pollutants which most adversely impact lakes (e.g. phosphorus) are those which are most difficult and expensive to treat to required levels. Cost-effective treatment technologies have long been available to remove those pollutants (e.g. oxygen-demanding substances) which most adversely impact rivers.
~10 discharges Compelling reasons for in-lake discharge 2. Everybody else is doing it. 607 municipal NPDES Permits in NYS Image source: UFI
~10 discharges Compelling reasons for in-lake discharge 2. Everybody else is doing it. 42 discharge to lakes Image source: UFI
~10 discharges Compelling reasons for in-lake discharge 2. Everybody else is doing it. 25 discharge to inland lakes Image source: UFI
~10 discharges Compelling reasons for in-lake discharge 2. Everybody else is doing it. 22% only 1 accounts for >4% of lake inflow Image source: UFI
Compelling reasons for in-lake discharge 3. One in three sounds good to me. Image source: UFI
Compelling reasons for in-lake discharge 4. Zebramusselphobia. …eeeeeeek! Image source: Jeffrey L. Ram
Lake Restoration - Water Quality Objectives Lake:maintain phosphorus levels at 20 µgP/L to reduce levels of algae, improve transparency and eliminate oxygen depletion. River:maintain oxygen levels at 5 mg/L to protect aquatic life.
Review of Restoration Strategies • In-lake Discharge • METRO TP at 120 µgP∙L-1 by 2006 • METRO TP at 20 µgP∙L-1 by 2012 • No action on river • Diversion • Destratify river • Route METRO to river • Other Actions/Considerations • Sediment response • Nonpoint P management
Onondaga Lake Total Phosphorus Model Seneca River Dissolved Oxygen Model Doerr et al. 1996 Canale et al. 1995 RiverMaster Software Module Integrated modeling approach Feasibility Study of METRO Discharge Alternatives
Onondaga: America's Dirtiest Lake Model Simulation of a Dual Discharge Approach Lake model: Doerr et al. 1996 River model: Canale et al. 1995 RiverMaster Module: Rucinski et al. 2003
1997 Prevailing In-Lake Discharge Effluent TP = 20 mg∙L-1 Effluent TP = 120 mg∙L-1 Diverted Discharge Analysis of discharge strategies Summer Avg. Epilimnetic TP (mg∙L-1) Management Goal (TPavg)
Diverted, 20% nonpoint reduction, SS sediment Diverted, 20% nonpoint reduction Diverted, SS sediment release Diverted Discharge Analysis of companion lake management options Management Goal (TPavg) 1997 Summer Avg. Epilimnetic TP (mg∙L-1)
Feasibility of a river discharge … average conditions average flow Seneca River DO (mg/L) Distance Downstream of Baldwinsville (km)
Feasibility of a river discharge … critical conditions average flow Seneca River DO (mg/L) critical flow (7Q10) Distance Downstream of Baldwinsville (km)
Conclusions of initial analysis • a comprehensive lake management plan, incorporating the diversion strategy, can achieve the phosphorus management goal; • implementation of a diversion strategy would eliminate the cost and uncertainty of seeking heroic levels of phosphorus removal at METRO; • the river possesses, under average flow conditions, the assimilative capacity to handle the METRO effluent without violation of oxygen standards; • there exist certain critical conditions under which the river cannot assimilate the METRO effluent and for which return to the lake would be necessary.