Environment Systems and Decisions

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 11–21 | Cite as

Climate variability and the sensitivity of downstream temperature to treated wastewater discharge: a simulation analysis

  • Mary T. Huisenga
  • William R. Travis


Anthropogenic influences and climate variability and change pose a challenge to conserving cold-water resources and associated biota in the US Rocky Mountain region. State and federal regulators set temperature standards for point-source wastewater dischargers to maintain healthy stream conditions. Regulators use recent receiving water data and temperature standards to calculate permitted effluent temperature and discharge. Thus, changes in receiving waters, especially stream temperature or discharge, may have a significant effect on permit levels for a wastewater treatment facility. Therefore, understanding the effects of climate variation on stream discharge and temperature is important in assessing potential changes to future wastewater effluent permits. In this study, we analyzed the challenge of keeping downstream temperatures below established maxima in the face of climate-induced variations in stream discharge and temperature.


Wastewater Stream temperature Water quality Climate change 



Research for this paper was supported by the Western Water Assessment, a Project of the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under Climate Program Office Grant #NA10OAR4310214. William Lewis, James McCutchan, and John Pitlick provided helpful guidance and advice. The article was improved by the critical comments of three anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

10669_2014_9532_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (932 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 931 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Water AssessmentUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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