Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



This project investigated: 1) the contribution of pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) from residential and hospital effluent sources, 2) resultant concentrations of PhACs in the Albuquerque Southside Water Reclamation Plant (SWRP) raw influent and treated effluent, and 3) concentrations of PhACs in the Rio Grande, which receives SWRP effluent. PhACs present in surface waters have been shown to adversely impact organisms (Jobling et al., 1998) and, in the case of antibiotics, perhaps increase resistance to these drugs (Ash, 1999; Eichorst, 1999; Guardabassi et al, 1998; Sternes, 1999). In this study, ten sample sites were identified and samples collected and analyzed for the presence of 39 PhACs, consisting of 29 non-antibiotic PhACs and 10 antibiotics. The Scientific Laboratory Division of the New Mexico Department of Health (SLD) conducted all analyses. Antibiotic analyses involved solid phase extraction, high performance liquid chromatography, and tandem mass spectrometry while the nonantibiotic PhACs were analyzed using liquid-liquid extraction, gas chromatography, and tandem mass spectrometry. Six antibiotics (sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, lincomycin, and penicillin G) and caffeine were detected in hospital wastewater (300-35,000 ng/l), while only one antibiotic, ofloxacin, was detected in wastewater from one of the two residential sites (1,300 ng/l). Three antibiotics: sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, and ofloxacin were present in both SWRP influent and treated effluent in concentrations ranging from 110 ng/l to 470 ng/l. However, concentrations in the treated effluent were reduced 20 to 77 percent. No PhACs were detected in the Rio Grande sample upstream of the SWRP discharge, and only one antibiotic, sulfamethoxazole, was detected in the two Rio Grande samples below SWRP. These results reveal that most of the PhACs analyzed for were absent or at undetectable concentrations in wastewater. However, antibiotics, particularly some sulfonamides and fluoroquinolones, were found at relatively high concentrations in hospital wastewater and were not completely removed by wastewater treatment. In particular, the sulfonamide antibiotic, sufamethoxazole, displayed high persistence and was detected at concentrations of 300 ng/l in the Rio Grande.

Language (ISO)



Water--Pollution--New Mexico--Albuquerque., Drugs--Environmental aspects--New Mexico--Albuquerque., Antibiotics--Environmental aspects--New Mexico--Albuquerque., Organic water pollutants--New Mexico--Albuquerque.


A Professional Project Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Water Resources, University of New Mexico.