Groundwater Problems Caused by Irrigation with Sewage Effluent

By Bouwer, Herman | Journal of Environmental Health, October-September 2000 | Go to article overview

Groundwater Problems Caused by Irrigation with Sewage Effluent


Bouwer, Herman, Journal of Environmental Health


Abstract

Increasingly, sewage effluent will be used for urban and agricultural irrigation. The main concern is the potential for infectious diseases in farm workers and city dwellers exposed to the effluent, as well as in people who consume crops irrigated with effluent, especially when those crops are eaten raw or brought raw into the kitchen. Prevention requires adequate disinfection of the effluent. The effluent also must meet normal irrigation water requirements for parameters such as salt content, sodium adsorption ratio, trace elements, and so forth. Unfortunately, little or no attention is paid to long-term effects of sewage irrigation on underlying groundwater. Since most of the water applied for irrigation in dry climates evaporates, the concentrations of non-biodegradable chemicals in the drainage or deep-percolation water going down to the groundwater can be much higher than in the effluent itself (about five times higher for an irrigation efficiency of 80 percent). These chemicals comprise not only the sa lts, nitrates, and possible pesticide residues normally expected in irrigated agriculture, but also "sewage chemicals" like synthetic organic compounds, disinfection by-products, pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutically active chemicals like endocrine disrupters, and fulvic and humic acids. These acids are known precursors of disinfection by-products that are formed when the drainage water ends up in drinking-water supplies that are then chlorinated. Thus, groundwater below sewage-irrigated areas eventually may become unfit for drinking, which raises questions of liability. More research on long-term effects of sewage irrigation on groundwater is urgently needed.

Editor's note: Through NEHA's long-standing relationship with NSF International, NEHA was granted permission by NSF International to share with the Journal's readership various papers that were presented January 12-15, 2000, at the "NSF International Small Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems International Symposium and Technology Expo" in Phoenix, Arizona. This paper, "Groundwater Problems Caused by Irrigation with Sewage Effluent," is one of them.

It is important to note that these papers were screened by an NSF International advisory committee prior to their presentation at the conference, but they have not been peer reviewed by NEHA's Journal program for technical accuracy.

Because these papers contain useful and interesting ideas and information that may be either delayed or lost if the papers were sent through the Journal's normal peer review process, NEHA has decided to publish them as presented, with only minor editorial modifications.

We hope you look forward to more of these papers in future issues of the Journal!

Introduction

Global population growth will take place mostly in developing countries and in cities, giving rise to mega-cities with mega-water needs, mega-sewage flows, and mega-problems. Populations in countries with higher living standards will grow more slowly, except in the United States, where immigration can be expected to stay high. As growing populations continue to increase demands and competition for water, management of water resources must become increasingly integrated, taking into account all aspects of the problem and using holistic approaches to achieve optimum strategies and solutions. For example, water supply management must also include demand management that determines whether more economical solutions to water shortage problems can be achieved with conservation (more efficient use), water transfers to uses with higher economic returns or other benefits, water pricing, recycling and reuse, and similar measures. Integrated water management also involves water quality management, effective pollution con trol, economics, public health, environmental and ecological aspects, sociocultural aspects, water storage (including long-term storage or "banking'), conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater, public involvement, conflict resolution, the flexibility to cope with climatic changes (McClurg, 1998) or other changes in water supply, regional rather than local approaches, weather modification, use of the virtual water concept, sustainability, and so forth. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Groundwater Problems Caused by Irrigation with Sewage Effluent
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.