Soil aquifer treatment (SAT) is a promising technique for wastewater reclamation and reuse. This treatment strategy takes advantage of physicochemical and biological processes in the subsurface. The model employed in this study is based on MODFLOW-SURFACT (HydroGeoLogic, Inc.), a three-dimensional model for variably saturated flow and reactive mass transport. The model accounts for reactions including the nitrification of ammonium, the denitrification of nitrate, and the oxidation of organic carbon. Concentration of dissolved oxygen and biomasses involved in aerobic and anaerobic biological reactions forms the basis for estimates of nonlinear reaction rates formulated using a multiple-Monod expression. Illustrative simulations were conducted in a two-dimensional cross-sectional domain, with unsaturated and saturated zones. They examine the effects that site and operational conditions have on the performance of a SAT system. The parameters and conditions of concern included length of the wet/dry cycle, ground surface condition, and infiltration rate. From the simulations, we found that organic carbon was effectively removed in all cases. The availability of oxygen was a key factor in predicting the production and removal of nitrate. Overall, the model successfully described the fate and transport of the key constituents during the wet/dry operational periods in both unsaturated and saturated subsurface.

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