Date of Graduation

Winter 12-15-2017

Document Type

Project/Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)

College/School

College of Arts and Sciences

Department/Program

Environmental Management

First Advisor

Gretchen Coffman

Abstract

Mercury is an environmental and public health concern due to its neurodegenerative effects and ubiquitous concentration within the environment. To mitigate these risks and reduce concentrations within the environment, remediation methods are necessary. The purpose of this paper is to investigate and evaluate the efficacy of a number of remediation options for mercury contaminated lakes and reservoirs in the State of California. This paper also identifies a number of challenges associated with the implementation of each method and provides recommendations for environmental managers to use when remediating mercury contaminated lakes. Hypolimnetic oxygenation (HOS) was found to be the least problematic remediation method and nitrate additions were found to be the most problematic. Remediation through dredging is only ideal for severely polluted sediments and can be cost prohibitive for many environmental managers. Phytoremediation is not an ideal method either due to lack of non-invasive mercury accumulating plants. Aqueous capping is a viable method, but only if the lake or reservoir is small in size. HOS is the least problematic remediation method investigated in this paper. HOS controls and prevents mercury from being methylated and entering the food web with the added benefit of increasing oxygen levels and cooling benthic temperatures. In order to decrease mercury deposition and mercury concentrations within California lakes, it is recommended that State and Federal legislation be passed to set mercury emission standards to reduce atmospheric deposition and emissions from coal fired power plants. In conjunction with legislative action, it is also recommended that both old and new coal fired power plants be fitted with advanced pollution control technologies to decrease mercury emissions in the United States. There is also the need to prioritize lakes for remediation efforts across the state due to limited environmental funding. Furthermore, it is also recommended to reduce risk of exposure in humans to eat fish lower on the food chain, or to eradicate animal proteins from their diet entirely.

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