Wastewater Irrigation Impacts on Soil Hydraulic Conductivity: Coupled Field Sampling and Laboratory Determination of Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity

Watson, J.E.; Robb, T.; Andrews-Brown, D.; Miller, M.

Journal of Visualized Experiments: Jove 2018(138)


ISSN/ISBN: 1940-087X
PMID: 30175993
DOI: 10.3791/57181
Accession: 065971043

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Since the early 1960s, an alternative wastewater discharge practice at The Pennsylvania State University has been researched and its impacts monitored. Rather than discharging treated wastewater to a stream, and thereby directly impacting the stream quality, the effluent is applied to forested and cropped land managed by the University. Concerns related to reductions in soil hydraulic conductivity occur when considering wastewater reuse. The methodology described in this manuscript, matching soil sample size with the size of the laboratory-based hydraulic conductivity measurement apparatus, provides the benefits of a relatively rapid collection of samples with the benefits of controlled laboratory boundary conditions. The results suggest that there may have been some impact of wastewater reuse on the soil's ability to transmit water at deeper depths in the depressional areas of the site. Most of the reductions in the soil hydraulic conductivity in the depressions appear to be related to the depth from which the sample was collected, and by inference, associated with the soil structural and textural differences.