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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Organic Carbon and Disinfection Byproduct Precursor Loads from a Constructed, Non-Tidal Wetland in California's Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta

  • Author(s): Fleck, Jacob A.;
  • Fram, Miranda S.;
  • Fujii, Roger
  • et al.

Wetland restoration on peat islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will change the quality of island drainage waters entering the Delta, a primary source of drinking water in California. Peat island drainage waters contain high concentrations of dissolved and particulate organic carbon (DOC and POC) and organic precursors to drinking water disinfection byproducts, such as trihalomethanes (THMs). We quantified the net loads of DOC, POC, and THM-precursors from a constructed subsidence mitigation wetland on Twitchell Island in the Delta to determine the change in drainage water quality that may be caused by conversion of agricultural land on peat islands to permanently flooded, non-tidal wetlands. Creation of permanently flooded wetlands halts oxidative loss of the peat soils and thereby may mitigate the extensive land-surface subsidence of the islands that threatens levee stability in the Delta. Net loads from the wetland were dominated by DOC flushed from the oxidized shallow peat soil layer by seepage flow out of the wetland. The permanently flooded conditions in the overlying wetland resulted in a gradual evolution to anaerobic conditions in the shallow soil layer and a concomitant decrease in the flow could be minimized by reducing the hydraulic gradient between the wetland and the adjacent drainage ditch. Estimates of net loads from the wetland assuming efflux of surface water only were comparable in magnitude to net loads from nearby agricultural fields, but the wetland and agricultural net loads had opposite seasonal variations. Wetland surface water net loads of DOC, POC, and THM-precursors were lower during the winter months when the greatest amounts of water are available for diversion from the Delta to drinking water reservoirs.

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