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Simulated climate change impact on summer dissolved organic carbon release from peat and surface vegetation: Implications for drinking water treatment

Water Research
DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2014.09.015
  • Dissolved Organic Carbon
  • Doc
  • Drinking Water Treatment
  • Disinfection By-Products
  • Climate Change
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Biology
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Physics


Abstract Uncertainty regarding changes in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) quantity and quality has created interest in managing peatlands for their ecosystem services such as drinking water provision. The evidence base for such interventions is, however, sometimes contradictory. We performed a laboratory climate manipulation using a factorial design on two dominant peatland vegetation types (Calluna vulgaris and Sphagnum Spp.) and a peat soil collected from a drinking water catchment in Exmoor National Park, UK. Temperature and rainfall were set to represent baseline and future conditions under the UKCP09 2080s high emissions scenario for July and August. DOC leachate then underwent standard water treatment of coagulation/flocculation before chlorination. C. vulgaris leached more DOC than Sphagnum Spp. (7.17 versus 3.00 mg g−1) with higher specific ultraviolet (SUVA) values and a greater sensitivity to climate, leaching more DOC under simulated future conditions. The peat soil leached less DOC (0.37 mg g−1) than the vegetation and was less sensitive to climate. Differences in coagulation removal efficiency between the DOC sources appears to be driven by relative solubilisation of protein-like DOC, observed through the fluorescence peak C/T. Post-coagulation only differences between vegetation types were detected for the regulated disinfection by-products (DBPs), suggesting climate change influence at this scale can be removed via coagulation. Our results suggest current biodiversity restoration programmes to encourage Sphagnum Spp. will result in lower DOC concentrations and SUVA values, particularly with warmer and drier summers.

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