Fortified soil was made up of a mixture at a mass ratio 4/1000–6/1000 of sponge and natural soil according to the results of column experiment. The fortified soil had bigger porosity and higher hydraulic conductivity than the natural soil. The columns packed with 900 mm of the fortified soil endured a flow rate equivalent to 100 L/m2/d of septic tank effluent and the average chemical oxygen demand, nitrogen, and phosphorus removal rates were around 92%, 75% and 96%, respectively. After 100 weeks of operation, the saturated hydraulic conductivity of the fortified soil kept higher than 0.2 m/d. The bigger porosity of sponge improved the effective porosity, and the bigger specific surface area of sponge acted as an ideal support for biomat growth and ensured the sewage treatment performance of the fortified soil. The comparable performance was due to a similar and sufficient degree of soil clogging genesis coupled with bioprocesses that effectively purified the septic tank effluent given the adequate retention times.

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