Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Civil Engineering


Civil Engineering

Major Advisor

Sondra Miller, Ph.D.


Kevin Roche, Ph.D.


Nick Hudyma, Ph.D.


Emerging constituents (ECs), also called contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.EPA) as: “…pharmaceuticals and personal care products.” This also includes per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are used in waterproofing and non-stick cooking products. It is highly likely that regulatory limits will be placed on many ECs because they tend to accumulate in the environment and biological tissues with little to no transformation. ECs pose a threat to the ecological systems of our nation and the fundamental need for clean water by all life on earth. Clean water is essential for food production, whether directly, through activities such as fishing, or secondarily, through irrigation for crop production. Research shows that ECs have affected the endocrine systems of certain fish species throughout the United States. Some studies indicate that upward of 85% of male fish sampled had eggs growing within their reproductive organs. ECs in the United States primarily enter water bodies through water renewal facilities, whether on-site (e.g. septic systems) or centralized municipal utilities (e.g. City of Boise’s water renewal system). Research shows various psychotropic drugs, prescribed and illicit, are present in both receiving and discharge streams of many North American water renewal facilities. It is unclear the extent to which ECs are removed or accumulate through wastewater treatment processes. This is further exacerbated by the abundant release of ECs into collection systems across our nation, and the rate at which new ECs are being generated for personal care and medical uses.

This research examined a targeted set of ECs within the Lander Street Water Renewal Facility (LSWRF), the older of the City of Boise’s two water renewal facilities. The research detected and mapped certain ECs as they processed through the LSWRF. Their paths through the facility, behavioral tendencies, and variations in concentration are presented here. While the concentrations detected are low in comparison to medical dosing concentrations, the accumulation potential of these substances in the natural receiving systems remains unknown. Water and soil must be clean for life to thrive. We have been given the responsibility by our creator to be good stewards of the earth and its resources. ECs pose a threat to life. We must continue conducting research to find a way to prevent ECs from causing harm to our natural systems. Research like this is the beginning of good stewardship.