skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Soil and stream-water impacts of sewage effluent irrigation onto steeply sloping land

Abstract

In a pilot study, the authors investigated how irrigation of secondary sewage effluent onto steeply sloping land affected soil physical, chemical, and biochemical properties, the composition of soil- and surface-waters and the vegetation of the site. The 3.36-ha site received up to 44 mm effluent/wk for 65 wk. Irrigation significantly improved total- and Olsen-P status of the soils and greatly enhanced nitrification potential. Respiration increased with increasing soil water content, but microbial biomass was not greatly affected by irrigation. Soil phosphatase activity decreased with increasing P fertility. Soil physical properties were not affected by effluent and hydraulic conductivities were sufficient to conduct water into and through the soil profiles. Soil- and surface-water NO{sub 3}{sup {minus}}-N concentrations increased markedly, especially in the second half of the trial when soil nitrification rates were also high. However, the streamwater NO{sub 3}{sup {minus}}-N concentrations remained well below the drinking water limit concentration of 11.3 g m{sup {minus}3}. In contrast, streamwater NH{sub 4}{sup +}-N and PO{sub 4}{sup 3{minus}}-P concentrations remained low and results indicated that concentrations of PO{sub 4}{sup 3{minus}}-P in river water, resulting from a full-scale irrigation scheme, would not exceed the target limit level of 0.0056 g m{sup {minus}3}. Irrigation accelerated natural successionalmore » changes in the vegetation, with a decline in undesirable fire-prone and shrubby species and an increase in native trees and tree ferns. These results demonstrated that, in the short term at least, a carefully designed and implemented irrigation scheme on steepland could renovate secondary sewage effluent, without adversely affecting soil properties and surface water quality.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
ESR Ltd., Porirua (NZ)
OSTI Identifier:
20012694
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Environmental Quality; Journal Volume: 28; Journal Issue: 4; Other Information: PBD: Jul-Aug 1999
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 56 BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE, APPLIED STUDIES; SEWAGE SLUDGE; IRRIGATION; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS; SOILS; SURFACE WATERS; CHEMICAL EFFLUENTS; PLANT GROWTH; BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS; NITRATES; PHOSPHATES

Citation Formats

Speir, T.W., Schaik, A.P. van, Kettles, H.A., Vincent, K.W., and Campbell, D.J. Soil and stream-water impacts of sewage effluent irrigation onto steeply sloping land. United States: N. p., 1999. Web. doi:10.2134/jeq1999.00472425002800040007x.
Speir, T.W., Schaik, A.P. van, Kettles, H.A., Vincent, K.W., & Campbell, D.J. Soil and stream-water impacts of sewage effluent irrigation onto steeply sloping land. United States. doi:10.2134/jeq1999.00472425002800040007x.
Speir, T.W., Schaik, A.P. van, Kettles, H.A., Vincent, K.W., and Campbell, D.J. Sun . "Soil and stream-water impacts of sewage effluent irrigation onto steeply sloping land". United States. doi:10.2134/jeq1999.00472425002800040007x.
@article{osti_20012694,
title = {Soil and stream-water impacts of sewage effluent irrigation onto steeply sloping land},
author = {Speir, T.W. and Schaik, A.P. van and Kettles, H.A. and Vincent, K.W. and Campbell, D.J.},
abstractNote = {In a pilot study, the authors investigated how irrigation of secondary sewage effluent onto steeply sloping land affected soil physical, chemical, and biochemical properties, the composition of soil- and surface-waters and the vegetation of the site. The 3.36-ha site received up to 44 mm effluent/wk for 65 wk. Irrigation significantly improved total- and Olsen-P status of the soils and greatly enhanced nitrification potential. Respiration increased with increasing soil water content, but microbial biomass was not greatly affected by irrigation. Soil phosphatase activity decreased with increasing P fertility. Soil physical properties were not affected by effluent and hydraulic conductivities were sufficient to conduct water into and through the soil profiles. Soil- and surface-water NO{sub 3}{sup {minus}}-N concentrations increased markedly, especially in the second half of the trial when soil nitrification rates were also high. However, the streamwater NO{sub 3}{sup {minus}}-N concentrations remained well below the drinking water limit concentration of 11.3 g m{sup {minus}3}. In contrast, streamwater NH{sub 4}{sup +}-N and PO{sub 4}{sup 3{minus}}-P concentrations remained low and results indicated that concentrations of PO{sub 4}{sup 3{minus}}-P in river water, resulting from a full-scale irrigation scheme, would not exceed the target limit level of 0.0056 g m{sup {minus}3}. Irrigation accelerated natural successional changes in the vegetation, with a decline in undesirable fire-prone and shrubby species and an increase in native trees and tree ferns. These results demonstrated that, in the short term at least, a carefully designed and implemented irrigation scheme on steepland could renovate secondary sewage effluent, without adversely affecting soil properties and surface water quality.},
doi = {10.2134/jeq1999.00472425002800040007x},
journal = {Journal of Environmental Quality},
number = 4,
volume = 28,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Aug 01 00:00:00 EDT 1999},
month = {Sun Aug 01 00:00:00 EDT 1999}
}
  • An irrigation module that considers both irrigation water sources and irrigation methods has been incorporated into the ACME Land Model (ALM). Global numerical experiments were conducted to evaluate the impacts of irrigation water sources and irrigation methods on the simulated irrigation effects. All simulations shared the same irrigation soil moisture target constrained by a global census dataset of irrigation amounts. Irrigation has large impacts on terrestrial water balances especially in regions with extensive irrigation. Such effects depend on the irrigation water sources: surface-water-fed irrigation leads to decreases in runoff and water table depth, while groundwater-fed irrigation increases water table depth,more » with positive or negative effects on runoff depending on the pumping intensity. Irrigation effects also depend significantly on the irrigation methods. Flood irrigation applies water in large volumes within short durations, resulting in much larger impacts on runoff and water table depth than drip and sprinkler irrigations. Differentiating the irrigation water sources and methods is important not only for representing the distinct pathways of how irrigation influences the terrestrial water balances, but also for estimating irrigation water use efficiency. Specifically, groundwater pumping has lower irrigation water use efficiency due to enhanced recharge rates. Different irrigation methods also affect water use efficiency, with drip irrigation the most efficient followed by sprinkler and flood irrigation. Furthermore, our results highlight the importance of explicitly accounting for irrigation sources and irrigation methods, which are the least understood and constrained aspects in modeling irrigation water demand, water scarcity and irrigation effects in Earth System Models.« less
    Cited by 1
  • Cited by 1
  • An irrigation module that considers both irrigation water sources and irrigation methods has been incorporated into the ACME Land Model (ALM). Global numerical experiments were conducted to evaluate the impacts of irrigation water sources and irrigation methods on the simulated irrigation effects. All simulations shared the same irrigation soil moisture target constrained by a global census dataset of irrigation amounts. Irrigation has large impacts on terrestrial water balances especially in regions with extensive irrigation. Such effects depend on the irrigation water sources: surface-water-fed irrigation leads to decreases in runoff and water table depth, while groundwater-fed irrigation increases water table depth,more » with positive or negative effects on runoff depending on the pumping intensity. Irrigation effects also depend significantly on the irrigation methods. Flood irrigation applies water in large volumes within short durations, resulting in much larger impacts on runoff and water table depth than drip and sprinkler irrigations. Differentiating the irrigation water sources and methods is important not only for representing the distinct pathways of how irrigation influences the terrestrial water balances, but also for estimating irrigation water use efficiency. Specifically, groundwater pumping has lower irrigation water use efficiency due to enhanced recharge rates. Different irrigation methods also affect water use efficiency, with drip irrigation the most efficient followed by sprinkler and flood irrigation. Furthermore, our results highlight the importance of explicitly accounting for irrigation sources and irrigation methods, which are the least understood and constrained aspects in modeling irrigation water demand, water scarcity and irrigation effects in Earth System Models.« less
  • This paper describes methodology and results of a study by researchers at PNNL contributing to the water sector study of the U.S. National Assessment of Climate Change. The vulnerability of water resources in the conterminous U.S. to climate change in 10-y periods centered on 2030 and 2095--as projected by the HadCM2 general circulation model--was modeled with HUMUS (Hydrologic Unit Model of the U.S.). HUMUS consists of a GIS that provides data on soils, land use and climate to drive the hydrology model Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). The modeling was done at the scale of the 2101 8-digit USGS hydrologicmore » unit areas (HUA). Results are aggregated to the 4-digit and 2-digit (Major Water Resource Region, MWRR) scales for various purposes. Daily records of temperature and precipitation for 1961-1990 provided the baseline climate. Water yields (WY)--sum of surface and subsurface runoff--increases from the baseline period over most of the U.S. in 2030 and 2095. In 2030, WY increases in the western US and decreases in the central and southeast regions. Notably, WY increases by 139 mm from baseline in the Pacific NW. Decreased WY is projected for the Lower Mississippi and Texas Gulf basins, driven by higher temperatures and reduced precipitation. The HadCM2 2095 scenario projects a climate significantly wetter than baseline, resulting in WY increases of 38%. WY increases are projected throughout the eastern U.S. WY also increases in the western U.S. Climate change also affects the seasonality of the hydrologic cycle. Early snowmelt is induced in western basins, leading to dramatically increased WYs in late winter and early spring. The simulations were run at current (365 ppm) and elevated (560 ppm) atmospheric CO2 concentrations to account for the potential impacts of the CO2-fertilization effect. The effects of climate change scenario were considerably greater than those due to elevated CO2 but the latter, overall, decreased losses and augmented increases in water yield.« less
  • Lakeland, Florida is building a power-generating unit that will burn 80% Kentucky high-sulfur coal and 20% garbage and will be cooled by sewage water effluent. The plant was designed when a proposed new oil-fired unit was rejected in the mid-1970s, although additional capacity was anticipated to keep pace with the area's population and development growth. A coal/garbage fuel mixture has both economic and environmental advantages because the 10-year coal-supply contract with Kaneb Fuel Services, Inc. of Kentucky will lower fuel costs and the pollution control equipment required for coal-burning plants will also meet the requirements for refuse-fired plants. Continued populationmore » growth is expected to provide adequate garbage for the unit, saving land that would have been used for landfills. Area lakes will be protected by the use of sewage effluent for cooling. The sludge produced will be used for patching roads. (DCK)« less