Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Philip van Beynen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Laurent Calcul, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kamal Alsharif, Ph.D.


Aquifer, Groundwater, Septic Tank


The advancement in synthetic chemicals commonly referred to as contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) and their application has led to an increase in environmental pollution. The use of septic tanks otherwise referred to as onsite water treatment systems (OWTS), promotes the introduction of CECs into the environment while allowing little in the way of remediation. In order to study the impacts of CECs from OWTS as they infiltrate the environment and the aquifer system, water, sediment, and vegetation samples were collected around a sinkhole lake surrounded by residential housing using OWTSs. The main question of this research project is what is the fate of CECs from OWTSs effluent within the catchment of a sinkhole lake? Liquid chromatograph mass spectrometry was used to analyze the samples for the presence of CECs. It was found that the relative quantity of CECs in the individual constituents is dependent upon 1) the hydrophobicity and polarity of the individual compound, 2) the specific sampling site, 3) the topography gradient, and 4) for vegetation the connectedness of the sample type to the sediment. The implications derived from this study can be applied in environmental engineering, urban and suburban planning, environmental monitoring, and should be considered when residents use well water as their source of potable water.