Micropollutant pathways were studied for the Swist river basin (Western Germany). The aim was to verify the effectiveness of a monitoring approach to detect micropollutants entering the river. In a separate sewer system, water was frequently found to be contaminated with micropollutants. Improper connections of sewage canals to the stormwater network seemed to be the cause of pollution. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) exerted the largest influence on micropollutants for the receiving river. During a flu outbreak, antibiotics in the Swist stemming from WWTPs increased remarkably. Elevated levels of pharmaceuticals were measured in discharges from a combined sewer overflow (CSO). The study showed that the pharmaceutical load of a CSO was significantly reduced by advanced treatment with a retention soil filter. Painkillers, an anticonvulsant and beta blockers were the most often detected pharmaceuticals in the sewage of urban areas. Herbicides, flame retardants and industrial compounds were also observed frequently. On cropland, Chloridazon and Terbuthylazine compounds were often found in landscape runoff. Fungicides and insecticides were the most frequent positive findings in runoff from orchards. The paper shows that a coherent approach to collecting valid information regarding micropollutants and to addressing relevant pathways as a basis for appropriate management strategies could be established.

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