City of Raleigh Participates in voluntary US EPA survey and study of the Neuse River

Examines Contaminants of Emerging Concern

Last updated Feb. 22, 2016 - 11:45 am
Hand in lake water

In 2011 the City of Raleigh volunteered to participate in a survey conducted by the US EPA to examine the presence of trace wastewater (micro) constituents, often referred to as contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), collected from the effluents of 50 wastewater treatment plants across the US. The Raleigh’s Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant, a tertiary treatment facility with full biological nutrient removal, was included as one of the facilities in the national survey with samples collected in early 2011. Data from the survey was recently provided to the City by the US EPA.

Based on this data, the City of Raleigh's wastewater treatment facility is producing effluent consistent with national trends, and with concentrations of CECs typical of other equivalent treatment facilities.

As a follow up to this survey, the City choose to undertake a study of the fate and transport of micro-constituents in the Neuse River to support future possible use of reclaimed water as a source water. The final report of that study is found here:

Neuse River Water Quality Sampling-Final Report [June 2014]


Trace wastewater (micro) constituents are defined as unregulated contaminants that are found in ultra-low concentrations, made now detectable by advancing technology. Often called contaminants of emerging concern, trace wastewater constituents include residual amounts of a wide range of items; from personal care products to metabolized and unmetabolized pharmaceutical compounds, from flame retarding compounds to compounds that act as endocrine disruptors.

The fact that a substance is detectable does not mean the substance is harmful to humans. To date, research throughout the world has not demonstrated an impact on human health from pharmaceuticals and other trace wastewater constituents in source waters. Research is continuing on possible environmental impacts of trace wastewater constituents.

View more information on the US EPA CEC survey

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