Assessing Disinfection Byproduct Formation in De Facto Water Reuse

people in a lab test small viles.

This project integrates laboratory research with water quality modeling to understand the interaction of urban-natural water cycles.

Project description

De facto reuse, the incidental presence of treated wastewater effluent in downstream drinking water supply, is increasing rapidly with urbanization worldwide. Due to their high organic nitrogen content, wastewater impacts can increase the formation of nitrogenous disinfection byproducts (N-DBPs) during drinking water treatment. Many N-DBPs are not regulated, but feature 10–100 times higher toxicity than the regulated DBPs. In this collaborative project between University at Buffalo and Arizona State University, wastewater samples from across the nation will be sent to Buffalo and analyzed for their potential to form DBPs. The results will then be used in a nationwide water quality model to assess the extent of wastewater impacts on drinking water sources regarding disinfection byproducts.

Project outcome

The project will contribute useful data to allow modeling of the de facto reuse and its impact on drinking water treatment at the national scale.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Medium (about a semester, 3-5 months)
Start time Spring, Summer
Level of collaboration Undergraduate students will be working with a graduate student mentor
Benefits Academic Credit, Work Study, Honors Credit
Who is eligible Sophomores, juniors, seniors with a knowledge of general chemistry; laboratory experience is preferred
Support Funding is available after the completion of the preparation badge. See below.
Udall and Goldwater Scholarships

Students participating in this project might be interested in and eligible for the Udall Scholarship and the Goldwater Scholarship. Connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to learn more.

Project mentor

Ning Dai

Assistant Professor

Dept. of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

231 Jarvis Hall

Phone: (716) 645-4015



To engage with this project, you will work through a series of Project-Based Collaboration digital badges to guide your experience. 

To get started, contact the project mentor using the contact information above to discuss availability and after you’ve received approval, you can start the Project Preparation Digital Badge. Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor

Preparation guidance

Once you have registered for the Project Preparation Digital Badge, you will receive further instructions related to the activities you will need to complete. In addition, you will also complete the following preparation activities for this particular project:

  • Lab safety training
  • Prepare a 3-slide summary of 2 journal articles related to disinfection byproducts. The articles should be published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology or Water Research after 2010. For each article, the summary should include a brief introduction of the disinfection byproducts investigated (e.g., structure and properties), the environmental relevance, and major findings.