Le programme d'assainissement des eaux de Québec (PAEQ), mis en place à la fin des années 1970, s'est d'abord attaqué au problème de la pollution ponctuelle d'origine urbaine. Plusieurs stations de traitement des eaux usées municipales ont été construites dans le cadre de ce programme réduisant de façon importante les charges de polluants d'origine urbaine. La question demeure toutefois de savoir dans quelle mesure les charges urbaines rejetées avant et l'après l'instauration de ce programme peuvent entraîner des dépassements de différents critères de l'eau. La présente étude a pour objectif d'examiner cette problématique pour le bassin versant de la rivière Chaudière en utilisant le système de modélisation intégrée GIBSI (Gestion Intégrée par Bassin versant à l'aide d'un Système Informatisé). Deux scénarios d'assainissement urbain ont été examinés, l'un représentatif de la période avant la mise en place du programme, le début des années 1980, et un autre représentatif de la période plus récente. Deux chroniques météorologiques ont été utilisées (années 1983 et 1994). L'estimation des probabilités de dépassement de différents critères de l'eau montre une nette réduction de ces probabilités après mise en place du programme. Pour la DBO5 et l'azote total, les charges urbaines rejetées actuellement n'entraînent pas de dépassement des critères de qualité de l'eau pour les deux années retenues. Toutefois, les résultats montrent que les charges en phosphore total d'origine urbaine peuvent à elles seules entraîner des probabilités de dépassement importantes lors d'étiage.
- Rejets ponctuels urbains,
- probabilité de dépassement,
- assainissement des eaux
Evaluation of the impact of a municipal clean water program on water quality of the Chaudière river watershed using the integrated modelling system GIBSI
In 1978, the Québec Government put in place a provincial municipal clean water program, referred to as the Programme d'assainissement des eaux du Québec (PAEQ), to restore the province's rivers to their natural state. The program focussed primarily on the problem of municipal waste loads and, hence, a large number of wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) were constructed during the 1980's and the 1990's. At the beginning of the 1980's, only a few percent of the population had their waste water treated, but this figure had increased to over 95% by 1997 (Figure 1). In the Chaudière river watershed, this program resulted in the construction of more than 35 WWTP over an 18-year period. Although an impressive effort was devoted to reduce municipal waste loads, a question remains: how does this reduction translate into terms of overall improvement of water quality at the watershed level?
The Chaudière river watershed was considered for this application. This watershed covers an area of 6682 km2 and is located south of Quebec City. Land use is dominated by forest (62%) followed by agricultural land (33%), urban area (3.6 %), and water (1.7 %). The total population in 1996 was 173129 and was mainly located in the northern part (i.e., the downstream region) of the watershed. A total of 44 municipal point loads were identified (see Figure 2 and Table 1), most of them corresponding to WWTP. Characteristic data on municipal WWTP for year 1995 were obtained from the Quebec Department of the Environment (MINISTERE DE L'ENVIRONNEMENT ET DE LA FAUNE DU QUEBEC, 1997) and used to estimate average concentrations of total phosphorus and the biological oxygen demand (BOD). Data included affluent and effluent concentrations at various WWTP. Since no data were available for nitrogen, a concentration of 40 mg-N/l was used (TCHOBANOGLOUS et SCHOEDER, 1985; NOVOTNY et CHESTERS, 1981). Nitrogen removal efficiency for different types of treatment was estimated from available data compiled by the Environment Quebec (Table 2). An average, per capita, daily wastewater volume of 0.73 m3 was derived. This large value indicates a large infiltration capacity in the sewer network and, on average, a poor structural state.
Results were analysed at four locations distributed along the river. These points corresponded to the locations of the four major water quality monitoring stations (Figure 3). Total annual loads within the sub-watersheds defined by these points were estimated (Table 3). Affluent characteristics were considered for the simulation of the pre-PAEQ period. Figure 4 represents the evolution of total phosphorus loads at station 2340012 (water intake for the town of Charny, the most downstream point). It shows that an important reduction occurred in 1986. For the same sub-watershed, the overall reduction for the 1982-1999 period was 38% for total phosphorus, 37% for total nitrogen and 83% for BOD.
Assessment of the impact of the PAEQ was done using the integrated modelling system GIBSI ("Gestion Intégrée par Bassin versant à l'aide d'un Système Informatisé") (ROUSSEAU et al., 2000; MAILHOT et al., 1997 ; VILLENEUVE et al., 1998). Only pollutant loads originating from sewer networks were considered; pollutant loads from industrial plants not connected to a municipal sewer network were not considered in this study. Similarly, diffuse sources of pollution from urban area or agricultural land were not taken into account. Two scenarios were considered: a first scenario associated with the 1983 year corresponding to the pre-PAEQ period; and a second scenario associated with the 1994 year describing the post-PAEQ period (following load reductions). Two hydrological reference years were also selected, namely, years 1983 and 1994. The former corresponded to a significantly drier year than the latter. At station 2340012 (Charny water intake), this difference was even more pronounced when considering that the cumulative summer flow was 6.9 times larger in 1994 than in 1983. Four simulations corresponding to different combinations of representative municipal waste loads and meteorological conditions were performed (Table 5).
Simulation results at the four control points were compared with water quality standards (WQS) for total phosphorus (0.03 mg-P/l, aesthetic WQS for prevention of eutrophication in rivers) and BOD (3 mg-BOD5 /l, sanitary WQS for domestic use of water requiring disinfection treatment only). The probabilities of exceeding these WQS were defined (equation 1) as the number of days (daily computational time step) where simulated values exceeded a given value (complementary cumulative distribution function). Table 8 introduces annual probabilities of exceeding WQS at the four control points and for the different simulations whereas Table 9 introduces those for the summer period. At station 2340012 (Charny water intake), for hydrological year 1994, a comparison of pre- and post-PAEQ conditions for total phosphorus shows that post-PAEQ condition lowered the number of days exceeding WQS by 49. Similar reductions were reached at the other control points. For the 1994 summer period, the reduction was not as pronounced since the probability of exceeding WQS was 0.24 for pre-PAEQ situation and it decreased to 0.21 for the post-PAEQ condition. These probabilities worsened under the 1983 summer conditions as concentrations exceeded the WQS 98% of the time at station 2340014.