Post-irrigation impact of domestic sewage effluent on composition of soils, crops and ground water--a case study
Yadav, R.K.; Goyal, B.; Sharma, R.K.; Dubey, S.K.; Minhas, P.S.
Environment International 28(6): 481-486
Long-term irrigation with sewage water adds large amounts of carbon, major and micro- nutrients to the soil. We compared the spatial distribution of N, P, K and other micronutrients and toxic elements in the top 0.6 m of an alluvial soil along with their associated effects on the composition of crops and ground waters after about three decades of irrigation with domestic sewage effluent as a function of distance from the disposal point. Use of sewage for irrigation in various proportions improved the organic matter to 1.24-1.78% and fertility status of soils especially down to a distance of 1 km along the disposal channel. Build up in total N was up to 2908 kg ha(-1), available P (58 kg ha(-1)), total P (2115 kg ha(-1)), available K (305 kg ha(-1)) and total K (4712 kg ha(-1)) in surface 0.15 m soil. Vertical distribution of these parameters also varied, with most accumulations occurring in surface 0.3 m. Traces of NO3-N (up to 2.8 mg l(-1)), Pb (up to 0.35 mg l(-1)) and Mn (up to 0.23 mg l(-1)) could also be observed in well waters near the disposal point thus indicating initiation of ground water contamination. However, the contents of heavy metals in crops sampled from the area were below the permissible critical levels. Though the study confirms that the domestic sewage can effectively increase water resource for irrigation but there is a need for continuous monitoring of the concentrations of potentially toxic elements in soil, plants and ground water.