Impact of Long-Term Land Application of Biosolids on Groundwater Quality and Surface Soils

Rao Y. Surampalli
King L. Lin
Shankha K. Banerji
Dennis M. Sievers

DOI: 10.2190/GKP8-E1EY-5XFU-KABH


A study was conducted to evaluate the long-term land application of sewage sludge and its potential impact on groundwater quality and surface soils. For this study, an existing site that has been in operation for more than fifteen years was selected for sampling and analyses. From this site, sludge applied soil samples, background soil samples, and groundwater monitoring samples were obtained. the samples were analyzed for the following: pH, conductivity, total solids, fecal coliform, fecal streptococci, nitrate nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, TKN, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, nickel, lead, and zinc. the results of this study indicate that groundwater at this sludge application site was not contaminated with heavy metals or pathogens. However, in some instances the groundwater nitrate nitrogen concentrations were slightly higher than background levels due to excessive nutrient loadings. This problem can be alleviated by applying sludge at agronomic rates so that no excess nitrogen is available for leaching. the bacteriological soil data indicated that the levels of fecal coliform and fecal streptococci were similar to background levels with no evidence of contamination.

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