Impact of brackish groundwater and treated wastewater on soil chemical and mineralogical properties. Academic Article uri icon


  • The long-term effect of using treated wastewater is not clearly defined: some researchers argue that it is better than freshwater for the soil health; others disapprove, claiming that irrigation with unconventional water resources causes soil degradation. This study assesses the impact of irrigation with non-traditional water on the chemical and mineralogical properties of a calcareous clayey soil from West Texas. The exponential rise in population and the realities of climate change contribute to the global increase in freshwater scarcity: non-conventional water sources, such as treated wastewater (TWW) and brackish groundwater (BGW), offer potentially attractive alternative water resources for irrigated agriculture. For this research, the differences between TWW and BGW were addressed by collecting and analyzing water samples for salt and nutrient content. Soil samples from three horizons (Ap, A, and B) were obtained from three different fields: Rainfed (RF), BGW irrigated, and TWW irrigated. Soil was analyzed for texture, salinity, sodicity, and carbon content. Clay mineralogy of the three different fields was analyzed using the B-horizons. The outcomes from the analysis showed that the BGW from the Lipan aquifer has higher salinity and is harder compared to TWW. Although the exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP), sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), and electroconductivity (EC) increased marginally compared to the control soil (RF), the soils were in good health, all the values of interest (SAR<13, ESP<15, pH<8.5, and EC<4) were low, indicating no sodicity or salinity problems. Smectite, illite, and kaolinite were identified in the three B-horizon samples using bulk X-ray diffraction (XRD). Overall, no major changes were observed in the soil. Thus, TWW and BGW are viable replacements for freshwater irrigation in arid and semi-arid regions.

published proceedings

  • Sci Total Environ

author list (cited authors)

  • Tahtouh, J., Mohtar, R., Assi, A., Schwab, P., Jantrania, A., Deng, Y., & Munster, C.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • Tahtouh, Jeffry||Mohtar, Rabi||Assi, Amjad||Schwab, Paul||Jantrania, Anish||Deng, Youjun||Munster, Clyde

publication date

  • January 2019