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Using soil properties to predict long-term effluent treatment potential

By Les A. Dawes and Ashantha Goonetilleke


The capacity of a particular soil to treat wastewater will change over time. The physical properties influence the rate of effluent movement through the soil and its chemical properties dictate the ability to renovate effluent. This study presents the outcomes of an investigation to identify the major controlling soil properties which influence the renovation processes. By monitoring changes in these properties will permit improved prediction of the treatment potential of a soil. The changes within soil properties of the disposal area due to effluent application were found to be directly related to the subsurface drainage characteristics including permeability, clay content and clay type. The major controlling soil physical and chemical attributes were found to be moderate drainage, significant soil cation exchange capacity and dominance of exchangeable Ca or exchangeable Mg over exchangeable Na, low exchangeable Na, clay type and a minimum depth of 0.4m of potential unsaturated soil before encountering a restrictive horizon. An in-depth knowledge of the local soil characteristics and associated soil hydrology is essential for a better prediction of treatment potential of subsurface effluent disposal systems. The study confirmed that both the physical properties and chemistry of the soil can be valuable predictive tools for evaluating the effective long-term operation of sewage effluent disposal systems

Topics: 050304 Soil Chemistry (excl. Carbon Sequestration Science), 090799 Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified, 050302 Land Capability and Soil Degradation, laboratory assessment, soil chemistry
Publisher: Lanfax Laboratories
Year: 2003
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