Peer review artikel

Managed Phreatic Zone Recharge for Irrigation and Wastewater Treatment


“Managed phreatic zone recharge with marginal water, using (existing) drainage systems, raises the water table and increases water availability for crops. This is a newly developed method of freshwater conservation and marginal water treatment and disposal, but risks crop and environmental contamination. The fate of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) within the irrigated water is addressed. We introduce numerical and analytical models, inspired loosely by a field site where treated domestic wastewater is used for subsurface irrigation. The treated wastewater would otherwise have been discharged into rivers, thereby spreading downstream. Model results show that minimal amounts of CECs are transported to deeper aquifers. Crops are not contaminated, except during dry years where small amounts of mobile CECs rise to the root zone, but then only directly above each irrigation drain. Under an annual precipitation surplus, less-mobile solutes are thus unlikely to ever enter the root zone. The primary mechanism of solute transport is lateral advection within the phreatic aquifer. Despite spatio-temporal heterogeneity in water flux magnitudes and directions, contaminant retardation does not significantly alter mass balance outcomes, only how fast it gets there. Therefore, persistent CECs pose the greatest risks, though overall environmental and crop contamination risks appear low. To maximize complementarity with subsurface irrigation systems, future advances in water treatment technologies should focus on removing persistent CECs. However, the system may be unsuitable for climates with annual precipitation shortages, as CECs may accumulate in the root zone and crops.”

(Citation: Tang, D.W.S., Zee, S.E.A.T.M. van der, Narain-Ford, D.M., – Managed Phreatic Zone Recharge for Irrigation and Wastewater Treatment – Journal of Hydrology (2023)art. no. 130208 – DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2023.130208 – In Press, Journal Pre-proof – (Open Access))

© 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license

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