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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-426
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Aug 2018

Research article | 29 Aug 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Caffeine vs Carbamazepine as indicators for wastewater pollution in a karst aquifer

Noam Zach Dvory1,2, Yakov Livshitz3, Michael Kuznetsov1, Eilon Adar1, Guy Gasser4,5, Irena Pankratov4, Ovadia Lev5, and Alexander Yakirevich1 Noam Zach Dvory et al.
  • 1Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, J. Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
  • 2Etgar A. Engineering Ltd.
  • 3Israel Hydrological Service, Israel Water Authority, Israel
  • 4Water Monitoring Laboratory, Israel Water Authority, Israel
  • 5The Hebrew University, Israel

Abstract. This paper presents the analysis of caffeine and carbamazepine transport in the subsurface during and after sewage discharge in the Sorek creek over outcrops of the Western Mountain Aquifer (Yarkon-Taninim) in Israel. Both caffeine and carbamazepine were used as indicators for sewage contamination in the subsurface. While carbamazepine is considered conservative, caffeine is subject to sorption and degradation. The objective of the study was to quantify differences in their transport under conditions in the carbonate aquifer. A quasi-3D dual permeability numerical model was used to simulate water flow and transport of both pollutants in a vadose zone – aquifer system. The results of this study show that each of these two pollutants can be considered as effective tracers for characterization and assessment of aquifer contamination. Carbamazepine was found to be more suitable to assess the contamination boundaries, while caffeine can be used as a contaminant tracer only briefly after contamination occurred. In instances when there are low concentrations of carbamazepine which appear as background contamination in an aquifer, caffeine might serve as a better marker for detect new contamination events given its temporal nature. The estimated caffeine degradation rate and the distribution coefficient of linear sorption isotherm were 0.091d−1 and 0.1L/kg, respectively, which imply a high attenuation capacity. The results of the simulation indicate that around 95% of carbamazepine mass was retained in the porous matrix of the unsaturated zone by the end of the year, while all of the caffeine was completely degraded a few months after the sewage was discharged.

Noam Zach Dvory et al.
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Noam Zach Dvory et al.
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Short summary
This research is paramount given the significance of karst aquifers as essential drinking water sources. While CBZ is considered conservative, CAF is subject to sorption and degradation and therefore each of these two pollutants can be considered as effective tracers for specific assessment of aquifer contamination. The model presented in this paper enable identifying how each of the mentioned contaminants could serve as a better tool for aquifer contamination characterization and its treatment.
This research is paramount given the significance of karst aquifers as essential drinking water...
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