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

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:
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Publication Date:
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
Research Org:
ESR Ltd., Porirua (NZ)
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