Abstract

Treated wastewater is commonly used for park irrigation in arid zones of Mexico without considering groundwater contamination. The objective was to investigate the possibility of nitrogen compounds leaching into the groundwater and their subsequent reactions in the main types of soils. Lysimeters samples were taken to scrutinize the soil characteristics of the green areas irrigated with treated wastewater from the Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant in the city of Chihuahua. Testing samples were setup to recreate treated wastewater irrigation conditions. Nitrogen-based compounds were identified and measured before and after percolation through the soil columns. Based on the results, one meter of sand column was sufficient to remove 68 to 100% of nitrogen compounds present in the residual water. The removal of all nitrogen-based compounds as they percolate through one meter of clay soil column was not enough, due to the biochemical reactions that occur through the percolation process. Results indicate minimal risk of nitrate and nitrite leach into the aquifer, since the average static level depth is 20 m which provide broad filtration. This demonstrates an opportunity for in-situ investigations to reevaluate the standards for soil aquifer treatment recharge, based on the soil type and water quality of the area.

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