Our research aimed to evaluate intermittent soil infiltration of treated sewage for reuse in the north of Chile. Aerated lagoon effluent was infiltrated in columns packed with native soils (sandy-lime, lime-gravel and limey-sand). Columns were operated for more than a year under different cycles of filling and drying, depths and load pressures depending on soil characteristics. The efficiency of the system was determined through influent-effluent microbiological indicators level (faecal coliforms, E. coli, Salmonella spp, MS2 phage, and protozoan cysts), physicochemical characterisation (TOC, COD, BOD, nitrogen), and hydraulic flow measurement. Results showed: (a) high reduction of enteric bacteria (5–7 log10), some inactivation of phage (2–4 log10) and complete removal of intestinal cyst; (b) stable removal of organic matter (80–90% reduction of TOC, COD, BOD); and (c) partial ammonia reduction through adsorption and nitrification with denitrification mainly occurring in sandy soil. Preliminary data from pilot plant working in the field showed better results that those obtained in the laboratory especially removal of microbiological indicators. Microbiological quality of effluent met Class A regulations for agricultural reuse (WHO, 1989) and the system looks like an attractive alternative to cope with water shortage in the region.

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