Assessing presence of emerging contaminants of concern (ECCs) associated with wastewater treatment plant discharges


Globally emerging contaminants of concern (ECCs) are found in groundwater, surface water, wastewater, drinking water and food sources. Whilst harmful impacts have been recorded for some of these chemicals, the key issue is that the environmental and human toxicology of most is not yet well understood. Many nutrients, pathogens and contaminants are already being monitored in Queensland, particularly water discharged from large wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) on the coast. However, the fate of contaminants in regional Queensland have received far less attention and have the potential to be overstated due to the lack of baseline data.

This study will determine temporal variations in multiple suites of ECCs across a wet and dry season in the catchment of three regional councils in the Central Queensland region.


This project is addressing environmental issues relevant to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), highlighting the benefits for regional collaboration to provide solutions to common strategic needs. It will improve the state of knowledge on baseline ECCs, will reduce risks posed by the emergence of ECCs and increase the ability of the participating regions to respond with authority to potential incidents/notifications involving ECCs. The research will also underpin development of management options for medium- and long-term planning, which may include infrastructure planning.

Acknowledgement of funding

This project has received funding support from 

  • The Queensland Water Regional Alliance Program (QWRAP)
  • Gladstone Regional Council
  • Mackay Regional Council
  • Whitsundays Regional Council


Working in collaboration with the Queensland Water Directorate, Gladstone, Mackay and Whitsundays Regional Councils
Shaneel Chandra (CQU
Ziyad Abunada (CQU)

Project Lead

Dr Angela Capper

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6.3 – Wastewater Treatment

SDG6.6 Water-related ecosystems

11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • 11.6 Reduce the environmental impact of cities

12 – Responsible consumption and production

  • 12.4 – Responsible management of chemicals and waste
  • 14 – Life below water
    • 14.1 – Reduce marine pollution
    • 14.2 – Protect and restore ecosystems