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11 - Information Item: Update on Boulder Creek Endocrine Disrupting Compound StudyCITY OF BOULDER WATER RESOURCES ~DVISORY B4ARD AGEND~ ITEM 1!'IEETING DATE: December 17, 2007 AGENDA TITLE: Information Item - Update on Boulder Creek Endocrine Disrupting Compound Study PRESENTERS: Floyd Bebler, Coordinator of Wastewater Treatment ~lan ~jajda, Department of Integrati~~e Physiolog3~, Uniti~ersity of Colorado at Boulder Lai~ry Barber, LTnited States Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado David C~. Noi-ris, Depai-tment of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado at Boulder Bret Linenfelser, Water Quality and Environmental Services Coordinator EIECUTIVE SL?1~I11~Z~RI': Humans have benefited from the production of a large array of chemicals including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, personal care product ingredients, cosmetics and plastics. O~~er this time period it is estimated that more than 80,000 different chemicals have been released in to the environrnent t~~•orld u~ide, with rnany released through the discharge of treated domestic waste~~~ater treatment plant (W WTP} effluent. Exposure to some of these chemicals, specifically endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), elicits physiological responses in plants and animals, including fish. Estrogenic EDCs present in W~~VTP effluents are capable of feminizing fish downstream of W WTP discharges as well as producing contraceptive-like effects. These changes have been documented in fish in Colorado streams, including Boulder Creek below the city of Boulder 75~h Street ~~~'~~~'TP effluent dischai•ge. City staff has been u~orking in cooperation with the University of Colorado (CU) and the United States Geological Sut-vey (USGS) on evaluating EDCs in Boulder Creek and their effect on resident fish populations. Chetnical analyses of the 7~~' Sti•eet ~~WTP effluent and Boulder Creek water indicated the presence of a number of EDCs do~mstrearn of the W~~4'TP as well as in the effluent itself. Based on chemical data and the results of the controlled biological experiments, the estrogenicity of the W~'TP effluent and its ability to feminize adult male tish in breeding condition appears to be signiticant. AGENDA ITE11~i # PAGE 1 STAFF RECOMA~IENDATION: NoneInformation item only. ANALYSIS: Introduction During the past decade in the United States there have been growing questions about low concentrations of chemicals that have the ability to possibly alter normal functions of the endocrine system, resulting in possible impacts on the development of fish, including feminization. Exposure to these chemicals, typically termed endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), elicits physiological responses in plants and animals, including fish. In many cases these impacts have been identified in surface «~aters below the point of discharge fiom an industrial or domestic WWTP's. Research on Estrogenic WWTP Chemicals in Boulder Creek Since 2000, the city of Boulder (city) Public Works Department, Utilities Division, has actively supported collaboration with researchers from the USGS and CU on studies of Boulder Creek and the effects of treated effluent discharged from the 75th Street WWTP. Estrogenic EDCs present in WWTP effluents and capable of feminizing fishes have been documented in Colorado streams, including Boulder Creek below the 75tH Street W WTP discharge. In 2000, the USGS conducted the "millennium baseline study," a comprehensive watershed scale, state ofthe science snapshot of the hydrology and geochemistry (both natural and contaminant) of Boulder Creek. In 2001, researchers fiom the CU Department of Integrative Physiology and Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) began to examine fish in Colorado streams at points upstream and downstream of municipal WWTP effluent discharges in Denver (South Platte River), Colorado Springs (Fountain Creek), and Boulder (Boulder Creek). White suckers (Catostotnus cotntnersoni) were collected by electroshocking, and in Boulder Creek intersex fish were observed in Boulder Creek below the 75th Street WWTP, but not at upstream reference sites. In subsequent samplings researchers observed intersex fish at the sites below effluent discharges but never at upstream reference sites. In addition, sex ratios downstream were skewed toward females. Specifically in Boulder Creek below the WWTP discharge, sex ratios for white suckers were skewed toward females almost 5:1 while numbers were fairly equal upstream of the WWTP. Additional effects on the ovaries and testes of fish at the sites downstream of effluent discharges suggest reduced reproductive competency compared to fish at the reference sites. Investigations of the occurrence of EDCs and reproductive disruption of fish in Boulder Creek have evolved into a cooperative effort between the USGS, CU, and the city. In order to further explore the putative relationship between the endocrine-activity of the 75th Street WWTP effluent and the reproductive disruption observed in downstream white suckers, it was necessary to conduct experiments to expose fish to the WWTP effluent under controlled conditions. A fish exposure mobile (FEM) was designed in a AGENDA ITEM # PAGE 2 mobile trailer (provided by DOW), and deployed at the 75th Street W WTP to conduct exposures of fish to effluent and Boulder Creek reference water. Adult male fish experimentally exposed to 75t~' Street WWTP effluent were rapidly feminized and demasculinized consistent with exposure to exogenous estrogenic wastewater contaminants. Effluent-exposed males exhibited reductions in the expression of secondary sexual characteristics, gonadal sperm abundance, and elevated plasma concentrations of the yolk-precursor protein vitellogenin. Results of the FEM experiments further implicate EDCs in the reproductive disruption observed among white suckers downstream of the 75th Street WWTP. Chemical analyses of the WWTP effluent and Boulder Creek water indicated the presence of a number of estrogenic compounds downstream of the WWTP as well as in the effluent itself. Based on chemical data and the results of the controlled biological experiments, the estrogenicity of the WWTP effluent and its ability to feminize adult male fish in breeding condition appears to be significant. Next Stegs far the City of Boulder and Researchers The city and researchers have identified various opportunities for future collaboration to advance the understanding of EDCs in Boulder Creek and to evaluate WWTP removal efficiencies. In August 2007, the 75th Street WWTP was converted to an activated-sludge treatment process from the former trickling filter -solids contact treatment process. The new activated sludge treatment process is anticipated to have positive effects on reducing effluent estrogenicity and reducing impacts to in-stream biota. To evaluate the removal rate of EDCs at the 75th Street WWTP before and after conversion to the activated sludge treatment process the city and researchers developed a sampling program to evaluate the fate of EDCs through all of the major treatment unit processes. In June of 2007, before the new activated sludge treatment process went on-line, the USGS collected samples a multiple locations throughout the trickling filter -solids contact treatment process. A similar process will be conducted in the summer of 2008 when final construction of the activated sludge treatment process and new solids handling facilities are complete. In addition to sampling at multiple locations within the WWTP, researchers are conducting tests on fish reproduction using samples of the final WWTP effluent before and after switching to the activated sludge treatment process. This evaluation will be repeated annually for several years to determine the effect on EDC removal based on two different treatment processes and the effects on fish feminization and in-stream biota. Additional ongoing investigations include evaluating the mechanisms underlying reproductive disruption in fish and the relative sensitivities of various native fish species to WWTP effluent estrogenicity in partnership with the DOW. Additional City Activities In addition to human waste that goes to the WWTP, the disposal of pharmaceuticals is also a source of EDCs and other emerging contaminants, and has the potential to be controlled at the source. Nationally, it is common practice that excess pharmaceuticals AGENDA ITEM # PAGE 3 be dumped down the drain, which occurs both in the home and in businesses. In addition, impacts have been identified from the use of personal care products (PCPs) that make their way down the drain either during use or disposal of excess product. Recently, the Utilities Division Water Quality and Environmental Services (WQES) program has been coordinating with Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE) to organize a pharmaceutical Take-Back Program in Boulder. It is anticipated that the Take-Back program will be held at Boulder Coininunity Hospital in order to comply with current laws and regulations, which primarily focus on proper disposal techniques for collected pharmaceuticals and controlled substances that may be collected. The Take- Backprogram is anticipated to take place in spring 2448. The WQES program Public Education and Outreach group is also working with the Public Works Communications group on education materials which focus on alternative disposal methods (other than flushing) that can minimize the environmental impact of pharmaceuticals and PCP's, and at a minimum, keep them out of the sanitary sewer system and ultimately Boulder Creek. As with any community, the city of Boulder wants to leverage existing or developing efforts ~-hieh address the same issue. This approach allows opportunities to partner with local groups, avoid overlaps and ensure a consistent message is delivered to the community. Study Costs and In-Kind Contributions To date, the city's contributions have primarily been limited to in-kind contributions in key areas that allow the researchers to be integrated in to every day functions of the Boulder 75~' Street WWTP. A summary of the relative contributions for data collection by the city, USGS, CU and the DC~W is provided in Attachment A. ATTACHMENTS: Attachment A: Estimated Study Expenditures and In-Kind Contributions. AGENDA ITEM # PAGE 4 Attachment A: Estimated Study Expenditures and In-Kurd Contributions Entity Type of Estimated Expense Benefit to Research Contribution city of Site $15,000 Ability to access required Boulder access/security (Staff resources for effluent and Boulder Creek communications) flow-through monitoring and work in secured area Power $20,000 Ability to run required fish (Installation) experiments and research trailer operations $3,000/ year (Electricity) Support for $5,000 Ability to sample at various W WTP sample (Staff resources) locations throughout treatment collection process to evaluate contaminant removal USGS Sample $50,000 Development of analytical collection (Leveraged methods for emerging collaborative contaminants with low-level studies) laboratory analysis $200,000 Laboratory anal sis University of Sample $180,000 Development/implementation Colorado collection/ of flo«~-through study, research characterization of tlu•eshold $25,000 effluent concentrations and Fish aquaria histology studies Colorado Fish collection $8,000 Electroshocking Division of Wildlife AGENDA ITEM # PAGE 5