Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-455
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-455

  07 Oct 2021

07 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Continuous Monitoring of a Soil Aquifer Treatment System’s Physico-Chemical Conditions to Optimize Operational Performance

Tuvia Turkeltaub1, Alex Furman2, Ron Mannheim2, and Noam Weisbrod1 Tuvia Turkeltaub et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Hydrology and Microbiology, Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer Campus, Midreshet Ben-Gurion, 84990 Israel
  • 2Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Haifa 32000, Israel

Abstract. Soil aquifer treatment (SAT) is a tertiary process for wastewater treatment where the wastewater infiltrates through a thick vadose zone for purification and storage in the underneath aquifer. SAT infiltration basins are typically flooded intermittently, while maintaining a fixed ratio between the wetting and the drying stages. However, infiltration basins exhibit different physical and chemical properties, limiting the generalization of SAT operation to attain optimal efficiency. Since frequent sampling of the soil pore water to verify the SAT’s biodegradation efficiency can be arduous, continuous monitoring of the SAT vadose zone’s physico-chemical conditions is required. In this study, redox potential (Eh) was continuously monitored, together with other variables such as water content (θ), soil temperature, and gaseous oxygen (O2), at multiple depths of a SAT vadose zone throughout the year and while the system was constrained to different operational modes. Hydrological models were calibrated and validated to water content observations, and they illustrated the seasonal changes in water infiltration. Furthermore, it was shown that under long wetting stages during winter, there was a reduction in the SAT’s drainage capabilities. The Eh observations, under long wetting stages, demonstrated larger variability and very negative values as ambient temperature increased. Assembling the daily Eh observations illustrated that a wetting stage should cease after about 30 hours, once suboxic conditions are established. A drying stage’s optimal duration should be 36 hours, according to the Eh and O2 observations during summer and winter. Ultimately, the study shows that the length of wetting and drying stages should be defined separately, rather than by adhering to the wetting/drying ratio.

Tuvia Turkeltaub et al.

Status: open (until 02 Dec 2021)

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Tuvia Turkeltaub et al.

Tuvia Turkeltaub et al.

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Short summary
The quality control and optimization of soil aquifer treatment (SAT) performance is challenging due to the multiple factors and costs involved. We installed in situ subsurface monitoring sensors that provided continuous high-resolution monitoring of the biochemical and physical conditions of an active SAT system. Data analysis facilitated the determination of the optimal drying and wetting stages, which are critical for suitable SAT management.