Tiffany Messer Scope 11-104B Water Resources Research Institute Annual Base Program 2021-2026

Grants and Contracts Details


The proposed project addresses five of Kentucky’s water research priorities – 1. Water hazards (understanding infrastructure relations to acute and chronic hazards), 2. Water quality (minimize human and environmental health risks from legacy and emerging water contaminants), 3. Water policy, planning, and socioeconomics (enhance effectiveness and robustness of water-related infrastructure planning, complete informative, integrated water resource models), 4. Watershed and ecosystem function (advance science, outreach, and education to improve/maintain the condition of ecosystem and drainage basin functions to ensure the provision of ecosystem services, and 5. Workforce development and water literacy (Enhance programmatic capacity in science communications; Increase capacity and opportunities to share and translate research results with stakeholders; increase experiential education opportunities for students, including students from underrepresented and underserved groups). The Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed new maximum contaminant limits (MCLs) for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) including PFOA (4 ppt) and PFOS (2 ppt) for drinking water. While these levels are much lower than aquatic life ambient water quality criteria including chronic water concentrations for PFOA (94,000,000 ppt) and PFOS (8,400,000 ppt), 95% of Kentucky is dependent on surface water, resulting in downstream locations utilizing a portion of WWTP effluent for drinking water treatment. Surface water sources are not uncommon for other regions of the United States, with a 2015 USGS report on public-supply water use reporting 61% of total water withdrawals were from fresh surface-water sources14, presenting an urgent concern for source water protection and potential treatment methodologies 15. While there have been several recent studies investigating environmental occurrence of PFAS leaving WWTPs16–19, investigations of the fate, transport, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification of PFAS in riparian and wetland ecosystems downstream from wastewater treatment plants have been limited in the United States20–26. Therefore, the proposed study will provide important information on the implications of PFAS to wetland biogeochemical processes and the potential for PFAS removal in these practices in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Further, a better understanding of the potential for PFAS to be transported and accumulate in Kentucky best management practices will be established. The proposed project will provide opportunities for a graduate student and an undergraduate student by engaging with USGS researchers working on PFAS method development, developing expertise in monitoring of PFAS in best management practices, and training in environmental chemistry for PFAS extraction and analysis in a USDA laboratory located on the University of Kentucky campus.
Effective start/end date9/1/218/31/26


  • US Geological Survey


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