The effect of municipal treated wastewater on the water holding properties of a clayey, calcareous soil
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Wastewater reuse is a practice that has been gaining attention for the past few decades as the world's population rises and water resources become scarce. Wastewater application on soil can affect soil health, and the manner and extent to which this occurs depends heavily on soil type and water quality. This study compared the long-term (15+ years) effects and suitability of using secondary-level treated municipal wastewater and brackish groundwater for irrigation on the water holding capacity of a clayey, calcareous soil on a cotton farm near San Angelo, Texas. The soil-water holding properties were determined from the extracted hydrostructural parameters of the two characteristic curves: water retention curve and soil shrinkage curve based on the pedostructure concept. In the pedostructure concept, these hydrostructural parameters are characteristic properties of the soil aggregates structure and its thermodynamic interactions with water. Results indicate that use of secondary treated wastewater increased available water capacity in the top horizon (0-15 cm) and decreased the available water holding capacity of this particular soil in the sub-horizons (15-72 cm). The brackish groundwater irrigation resulted in no effect on available water capacity in the top horizon, but significantly decreased it in the sub-horizons as well. The rainfed soil was the healthiest soil in terms of water holding capacity, but rainfall conditions do not produce profitable cotton yields. Whereas, treated wastewater irrigated soil is producing the highest yields for the farmer. Thus, this treated wastewater source and irrigation system can serve as a suitable irrigation alternative to using brackish groundwater, enhancing the water resource sustainability of this region.
author list (cited authors)
Loy, S., Assi, A. T., Mohtar, R. H., Morgan, C., & Jantrania, A.